Minoru Raincoat

  • Pattern: Sewaholic Minoru, view A
  • Fabric: 2-ply Ultrex in black (main); Silkara in burgundy (lining), both from Seattle Fabrics
  • Modifications:
    • Added 6 pockets: 2 outer flap pockets + 4 inner zipper pockets
    • Converted the hood to a 3-piece hood (from these instructions)
    • Added a lining and facing to the hood
    • Shortened the sleeves by 1.5 inches and made the cuffs flat
    • Made cuffs 2-piece–inner one interfaced and outer one not; understitching around the cuff opening helps it lie flat without topstitching that area (otherwise I attached the cuffs per the pattern instructions)
      • Side note: I don’t think interfacing is necessary for this fabric–I didn’t use it in the zipper plackets and they seem fine without it!
    • Finished the inner collar seams with my serger (otherwise the raw seams would have been exposed when the hood zipper is open)
    • Sealed all the shell seams with iron-on seam tape (I needed 10 yards for this jacket)
  • Comments:  I also wanted to add a facing under the zipper, but I had SUCH a tough time sewing through the Ultrex that I didn’t think either of my machines could make it through all those layers. Yes, my machines hated sewing the Ultrex! What a pain. I didn’t have wavy seams or slippage like other people reported, but as soon as more than 2 layers were being sewn (like in topstitching or where seams intersected or at the gathers around the collar) they would insist on skipping stitches. Argh! I tried a bunch of different needles and settings, yet still the problem happened; eventually I just gave up and accepted that my topstitching was going to look wonky. For the record, I had the most success with Microtex 60/8 needles.

The Silkara, on the other hand, was dead simple to sew and looks soooo nice. I may need to make something else with that as the main fabric!

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While I found the Minoru pattern generally pretty easy (the sewalong is also full of helpful hints) and fitting it is simple (ragalan sleeves! fitted at the waist with easily-adjustable elastic!), I wouldn’t use it for a raincoat again. This is mainly because of the gathers at the collar; they were very hard to handle with the waterproof fabric and now that I’ve had to go over that seam several times I’m a bit concerned with how waterproof it will be. The pattern would make a nice medium-weight jacket in canvas or light wool, though!

I do think it’s a bit silly that the only pockets included in the pattern are little velcro patch pockets on the inside. I guess the designer was probably trying to keep the jacket as simple as possible? In that vein, if you’re thinking of making your own version, there are lots of ways to jazz it up that many people have already done–for example:

  • Three-piece hood
  • Hood lining and/or facing
  • Storm flaps
  • Drawstring for hood
  • Drawstring in place of elastic for waist
  • And of course lots of options for pockets (I really wanted to do cargo pockets on the outside, but once I realized my fabric wouldn’t press and I was having so much trouble with topstitching, I decided to do flat patch pockets. Zipper welt pockets probably would’ve been better, but by the time I got to that step I didn’t want to wait for specially ordered zippers so I just forged ahead, haha)

I read a lot of other people’s project details before starting mine, and a lot of advice on sewing with waterproof fabric. Thanks to all the bloggers who detailed their modifications; that made it easy to adapt them to my own.

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Someone posted that if you’re embarking on making a raincoat, you just need to accept that it’ll probably cost more than something off-the-rack AND it won’t be perfect. While I’m overall happy with this jacket, there are two ways it’s not ideal: it’s a little snugger than I’d like (especially in the upper arms–not usually an issue for me) and the topstitching is frankly awful. But I can still get it on over my fleece jacket, and luckily the topstitching is nearly invisible unless you get up way too close. 🙂 Plus, it fits much better than anything off-the-rack that I’ve tried! So I’m at peace with it.

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A Tale of Two Coverups

Last year I learned that there is such a thing as UPF fabric (like SPF, but for fabric–it’s treated to protect against ultraviolet radiation from the sun). Since then, I’ve been pondering lightweight coverups to throw on when I’m going to be outside for extended periods of time (rather than having to slather on sunscreen constantly).

My first idea was to make a beachy coverup out of a white woven. The problem was that all the beachy coverups I was looking at for inspiration had short sleeves and/or left the chest exposed–two areas I definitely wanted to protect! So then I thought . . . maybe I could adapt a wrap dress pattern with long sleeves? This is what I ended up with:

The pattern is McCall’s M6959 and the fabric is SunScreen50 Lightweight Nylon Woven Wicking Fabric from Rockywoods. I adapted the pattern by raising the neckline a bit, lengthening the sleeves, and shortening the skirt (more in front than in back). I also added patch pockets.

Unfortunately, it’s just not that comfortable. It’s cute, but doesn’t really give that flowy, beachy vibe I was going for. The armscyes are also kind of tight, making it annoying to layer. And while Rockywoods claims this fabric has a “soft, cottony hand,” I would say that . . . it feels like nylon. It’s hot and stiff!

On to Plan B: a waterfall cardigan in a knit. I used the Harper Jacket from Style Arc pattern and this time I went for SunScreen50 Activewear poly/spandex in Carbon Grey. It’s still a bit warm (definitely more than a lightweight linen or a cotton lawn would be), but is so much more comfortable than the woven. The major down side of this fabric is that it smells a bit rubbery; hopefully after a few more washes that will go away.

Waterfall cardigans aren’t really my style, but this is definitely good for layering and covers up both the arms and chest without any modifications. In fact, I didn’t change anything from the straight pattern. (Though in retrospect I wish I’d added in-seam pockets.) I found the instructions a bit confusing at one point, though I’m pretty sure I worked it out and luckily knit is forgiving. Plus, there are only three pattern pieces so it still comes together very quickly–especially if you don’t hem anything.

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The winner has to be the waterfall cardigan–I actually wear it since it is pretty comfortable, even if I don’t love the look. (Nothing against the style; it’s just not really me!) Still pondering if there’s a better solution that I’ll really love, though . . .

Painted Autumn Leaf Hoodie

It’s another Simplicity 1251! This pattern comes with a template and instructions for needle-felting a rose design on the sleeves and hood. Now, I wasn’t going to needle-felt by hand and I don’t have a machine that can needle-felt, but I liked the idea of adding something to relieve the stark black of this hoodie. I worried that hand-embroidery would be too delicate (the idea was to be able to throw this in the wash easily), so I decided to try fabric paints.

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The paint I used is Jacquard Lumiere #223 (“Brass”), which I found, to my surprise, at my favorite local trim store, Pacific Trimming. (Never having been in the market for fabric paint before, I just never noticed that they had a rack of it in one of the windows. It’s also available at Dharma Trading Co., for those who aren’t NYC locals.) I found a nice leaf template on Etsy (I got the 9″ x 9″ size), unearthed some unused makeup sponges, and my attempt at fabric painting commenced. Turns out it’s kind of difficult to stencil on sweatshirt fleece, but I’m still pretty happy with the results!

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Oh yes, the fabric is the thick, cozy Beefy Cotton Solid Fleece from The Confident Stitch (thank you to Lladybird for linking to that). I’m so glad I discovered this because I’d been having a really hard time finding thick sweatshirt fleece. (It’s not like sweatshirts are rare items…why is cozy sweatshirt fleece so difficult to find??) (Side note: This does shed A LOT in the wash on the first washing–I’ve only washed it once so far and am hoping now that all the edges are finished it won’t do that again…but oof! The drains in my laundry room were not happy.)

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Unfortunately, this particular fleece actually isn’t a great match to the pattern–the fabric has very little stretch and the pattern calls for some, so the hoodie ended up being pretty tight (even after I reduced the side-back and sleeve seams to 1/4 inch), especially in the upper arms. That is totally my fault, though–I would absolutely use this fabric again in an instant, but maybe with a pattern for a nonstretch woven (or perhaps I should’ve just made a bigger size?). Anyway, it’s wearable without anything underneath, but doesn’t quite fit the bill for what I’d intended: a warm tunic to throw on as an extra layer.

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So we’ll see how much wear I get out of this garment. But at the very least, I’ve now discovered that stenciling on fabric is quite easy and quick, and I’ve found a great source of sweatshirt fleece, so even if I don’t end up using this particular make too often I’m pretty excited about those two facts!

 

Cropped Pinup Sweater

It’s getting cooler, right?! This sweater has been in my sewing queue for at least two years, so it’s quite an accomplishment that I finally made it (and it only took about 4 hours, so I don’t know what my hangup was). Anyway, the pattern is the Pinup Sweater from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, cropped (like, I think I chopped 7-8 inches off) and with long sleeves. The sleeves and bodice are finished with wide bands. The sleeves are a little long, but I keep making things with the sleeves ending up too short, so I’m leaving them for now.

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The fabric is a soft and drapey cotton/poly hacchi sweater knit (no longer available, sorry). I have about half a yard left and I need to find something to do with it since it is so, so soft.

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Anyway, hopefully this will be a versatile staple for the cooler months (or, honestly, for the office air conditioning in the summer).

OAL 2017: Complete!

My outfit for the Outfit Along 2017 is complete! My knitted garment is an Evening Spencer Jacket in red cotton and the sewn garment is a self-drafted skirt. Details on the knitted jacket (including lots more photos of it) are up on Ravelry. The skirt is a linen/cotton blend and this is roughly the pattern I used:

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I call it a 1/4+ circle skirt for obvious reasons–it starts with a 1/4 circle, but has a couple of extra panels added on the back for a bit more width (the width of the back panels was determined by what I could eke out of 2 yards). The waistband is just bound in bias tape and it closes in center back with a zipper.

This isn’t exactly what I ended up with, though. It turns out that even with the extra panels and even with it sitting low on my waist, it wasn’t quite wide enough for my hips/butt (sigh). I lowered the waistband (trying to bring wider areas up higher) and took in the extra width at the waist in two pleats around the center back. (Darts would’ve been an elegant solution, but I couldn’t get them to look right.) It’s still not quite as wide as I’d like, but it works. Next time I’ll just go with a half circle!

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Of course I added pockets. Patch pockets this time since there aren’t any side seams–with fun embroidery! These are hand-embroidered; on the skull pocket I used Skully Stitcher from Urban Threads (in white and red to match the jacket) and for the other pocket I just picked up some elements from that design.

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Anyway, have some more photos, including a kitty photobomb:

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Steampunk Denim Jacket

It’s a jacket made of denim…and that’s all the relationship this has to a traditional “jean jacket.” This has been on my to-do list for…maybe a year? And finally I did it!

For the pattern, I used Simplicity 8020, View A. Major changes from that pattern were to replace the buttons with a zipper and add a set of darts in the front since it was looking a bit boxy when I first tried it on. I made a lot of fitting adjustments to accommodate my narrow shoulders, but that isn’t a reflection of the pattern so much as it is how my body relates to the “standard” sizing. (With each project, I learn more about how to adjust the fitting and I’m pretty happy with my progress on this one.)

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I love that the jacket looks tailored, yet is actually quite loose in the torso (which means it’s comfortable and will hopefully fit over bulkier tops).

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The one thing I think I’d do differently if I made this again is to make the sleeves tapered or straight to the wrist. The ruffle is cute, but it leaves the forearms rather exposed–not so great if you’re wearing this for warmth. (Though this does mean I now have an excuse to get some of those scissors arm warmers from Sock Dreams….)

The jacked is unlined and all inside seams are finished with my serger, then pressed to one side and topstitched.

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But of course the really exciting touch is the patches on the back.

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Loki wants to know what the fuss is all about.

These are sold by MTthreadz on Etsy, and they have soooo many great patches! You can see from the photo above this one that I sewed these on–I did iron them on, but it didn’t seem like they would stay (especially since they’re so large and on an area that would see a lot of movement) so I stitched around the edges with my machine. I will definitely be picking up more patches for future projects.

On a related note, I’ve dived into fall/winter sewing. The main things I “need” for the next few months are:

  • Turtlenecks
  • Toiletries bag
  • Ballgown for November
  • Ren fair outfit

Other things I’m hoping to make:

  • Wool skirt
  • Long-sleeved knit dress
  • Clutch purse (I’m dying to make this one, but the instructions are awfully daunting)

Ah, so many plans!

Regency Spencer

Last month, a few of us costuming enthusiasts had a nineteenth-century picnic in Central Park. We were mostly Regency, which gave me an excuse to make new stays (already blogged) and a spencer.

Picnic1(Leia, me, Marci, and Alex. Photo by James)

The spencer is the Sense and Sensibility Regency Spencer/Pelisse pattern. I made the lapels a bit less pointy and adjusted the shoulder width (successfully! finally!), but otherwise didn’t make any major changes. I think the sleeves ended up a bit short, so the next time I have an excuse to work on Regency outfits I may add cuffs. I interlined the lapels and collar with hair canvas for stiffness, though the pattern just calls for interfacing the collar.

haircanvasThe entire bodice is self-lined and the sleeves are unlined (I finished the armscyes with self-binding). The jacket closes with two hooks and eyes; the fabric-covered buttons are just decorative.

spencerfront spencerhooksandeyesBut my favorite decoration is the cotton piping!

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Fabric is a mediumweight linen, which was perfect for a spring day–breathable but provided a bit of warmth.

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(Photo by Marci)

In other costuming news, it’s looking like there’ll be a good chance I can join my sister at the big Texas Renaissance Festival in November. Three days of Ren fair equals three different costumes, right?? At this point, I’m thinking:

  1. Italian Renaissance gown (already made)
  2. Classic Ren fair “wench” outfit (which I’ll have to make entirely, but damn it I’ve been wanting one since high school!)
  3. “Goth” Ren fair outfit (aka, an excuse to finally finish altering my black leather Timeless Trends corset)

YES, only the first costume is even remotely historically accurate. But that’s the fun of Renaissance fairs: they’re a great excuse for fantasy dress up! It’s kind of refreshing to wear whatever outfit you want regardless of whether it’s “correct.” (I think the researching part of historical costuming is fun–don’t get me wrong–but sometimes it’s a nice break to just indulge yourself in complete fantasy.)

(Top photo in this post is by Leia)