Guts!: Trench Coat Edition

Hi, guys!  I’ve been sewing for a while now, and one of the things that I’m focusing on these days is upping the quality of my work- I want a nice, clean finish, I want my clothes to hold up over time, and I want to use appropriate techniques for each garment. Since coats have been on my mind lately, I thought it would be fun to look under the hood at some RTW trench coats and see if there’s anything we can learn from them! Wanna take a look?

This is a BB Dakota coat that I’ve had for several years. I bought it in my pre-sewing days from Fred Flare in Greenpoint (now closed). It was originally priced a bit over $100, I think, but I kept checking in at the store to see if it had gone on sale, and finally my patience paid off and I scooped it up for a song.

I’ve worn this countless times over the years, and anything that could fall off, snap, or come unstitched has- the buttons fell off one by one, the pockets ripped, the chain loop for hanging ripped off, the belt prong broke… One of the first things I did with my borrowed sewing machine was re-stitch the torn pockets. I was so pleased when I figured out I could fix them! Since then I think I’ve replaced every single button. This has been a high-maintenance coat, but I love it, so it’s been worth it to extend its life with a little TLC.

The faux fur collar attached to the underside of the regular collar with buttons. There’s a little flap on the bottom of the detachable collar that the coat slides into and you can just button it in place. When the fur collar is removed, you can’t tell that anything’s missing!

The coat is faced with self-fabric (70% cotton, 30% nylon) and is lined with a matching polyester.

The lining’s been bagged- here’s the sleeve seam that was left open for turning right-side out. It’s just been machine sewn, and it’s not super tidy. Do you feel better about your own sewing when you see something messy in a RTW garment? :)

There’s a zipper in the sleeve that, when opened, creates more room for the wrist. So the lining has a sort of jump on the inside to accommodate this.

The lining uses the same pattern pieces as the shell in the back- there’s no pleat or ease in the lining. The back vent is lined, a trick I struggle to wrap my head around.

Vent, vent, vent… you confuse me. Anyway. So, although this coat was on the expensive side for my budget in those days, it seems like a good example of pretty low-cost construction methods.

Sample #2! This is a brand-new coat, the Everlane Swing Trench. I rarely buy RTW these days, but I like Everlane’s business model (they develop close relationships with their factories to insure that the workers are treated ethically and the garments are constructed well, and they only sell online so they can keep their prices down) and I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so I decided to just go for it. The shell is 100% cotton with a very tight weave and a water-resistant coating. It retails at $138. Here’s a little more info about the factory where this coat is produced, if that sort of thing interests you as much as it does me. (PS- Everlane has an affiliate program where you can refer your friends for store credit, but the links above are not affiliate links).

There’s a front stormflap, and I guess you would call this one in the back, too? It’s connected at the collar seam, so you can reach your hand up between the layers all the way up to the shoulders.

Only the sleeves are lined (with 100% polyester). It’s faced with self-fabric, and all the buttons have a buddy button on the wrong side. Both jackets have keyhole buttonholes, which look nice. I can’t do them on my sewing machine, but maybe I’ll take my next jacket project to Jonathan Embroidery and let them make keyhole buttonholes for me. :)

This detail is actually really cool- the pockets look like regular welt pockets from the front, but the pocket bags are French seamed. The stitch lines you can see here are reinforcing the welt. Anybody ever seen this construction in a pattern? I’m the worst at visualizing how things go together to form the finished product, so I have no idea what the construction order would be for this!

The facings, as well as the side seams, are serged, turned, and stitched.

The overall effect is really clean and tidy, which surprises me in a jacket that’s not fully-lined. I usually hear “unlined” or “partially-lined” and shudder a bit, but I really like this construction and would definitely replicate it if I ever had the need for another lightweight jacket.

Here, the hem is pressed up and stitched, and then the front facing is pressed under and stitched down on top of it.

I can’t speak to how well-constructed this jacket is since I’ve only just gotten it, but it seems like a higher quality than the BB Dakota coat. Hopefully I won’t start immediately shedding buttons! I do wonder if there are any different construction tricks in a really high-end trench. I’d really like to snoop a fancy trench and a vintage one! Anybody have, say, a Burberry trench? Or one from the ’60’s or ’70’s? Is there anything different in the way they’re constructed? I’m also interested to know if anyone has sewn their own trench coat! If you have, what pattern did you use, and how does the finished garment differ from these RTW examples?

Hope you guys didn’t mind my geek-out! I can’t stop myself from peering inside garments these days… it’s so tantalizing to sneak a peek at what’s going on inside them! Anybody else have this problem?

Ginger Made: Alder Shirtdress, v. 3!

Oh my… I think at this point we can classify my love for the Alder Shirtdress pattern as an addiction. I tried to move on to fall sewing, but I just couldn’t help myself and decided to try out view B before summer was over! Just one more summer dress can’t hurt, right?

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

The fabric you’re seeing here is a rayon blend, perhaps even rayon/linen. It’s lightweight, breathable, and has a very fluid drape. It works really well for this! The drape keeps the gathers looking good, but it wasn’t slippery or annoying to sew with.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

The fabric came from Fabrics for Less in the Garment District. It’s a small storefront that’s jam-packed with fabric bolts, so it takes some careful navigation, but I almost always find something fun in there for very little cash ($5/yd for this stuff!). It was an impulse purchase (palm trees!!! seagulls! sunsets!), and while I love the print, it’s not a good color scheme for me. I like how it looks up close, but it washes out farther away and I feel like I look even paler than usual. But- palm trees! Seagulls! Sunsets! It’s like I ripped the curtains out of a Miami hotel in 1987 and gave them the Scarlett O’Hara treatment! Who cares if I look like I’ve never actually seen a ray of sun, let alone a palm tree?!

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I didn’t make any fit alterations to this version, although, if I’m being honest, I probably should have lengthened it a bit. It’s definitely riding the line between “acceptably short” and “are you leaving the house in that???” Even just another inch might be enough. Since I’d made this pattern twice before, it sewed up quickly… EXCEPT for the fact that I didn’t really look at the instructions and totally forgot that you need to trim back the right front bodice (the side that you stitch the button band onto), and I didn’t notice that it was way longer than the left side until I’d already topstitched the button band down, noooooooo! I find that I often make silly mistakes when I’m making something I’ve made before, but it all worked out in the end.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

I’m surprised how much I like this version. I wasn’t initially attracted to the gathered skirt- sometimes looser dresses with gathered waists are just too ’90’s for me- but I like that it gives me volume through the hips without adding to my waist at the front. I am sort of a reverse pear, with a thicker middle and narrower hips, but this silhouette kind of fakes an hourglass shape. Another benefit of the gathered skirt is that I could sneak side-seam pockets into this version. What I don’t like- actually sewing gathers! I’m the worst at it… no matter how carefully I distribute and pin them, they always end up getting smashed into ugly little tucks… yuck!!! This fabric couldn’t really handle much seamripping, so I just left it, and it’s not a dealbreaker, but I definitely need to work on perfecting my gathering technique.

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

OK, before we go, here are the winners of the Malu coat pattern giveaway! #176, #24, and #2… that’s Jules, Kirsten, and Sarah! Congratulations! I’ve sent you all emails. :)

Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress | Ginger Makes

Now, what are you sewing right now? Any exciting projects? What’s the pattern you’ve sewn the most times?

Autumn/Winter Daydreaming: Coats, Coats, and More Coats!

Hi, dudes! Hope your weekends are all off to a great start! I’ve been in a bit of a sewing pickle lately… it seems too late in the season to keep sewing summer clothes, but it’s been so hot lately that it’s not much fun sewing cool weather clothes! I’ve made a couple of fall pieces that I haven’t worn or photographed, but I’m just not feeling too inspired to sew more at the moment. So, what have I been doing instead, you ask? Daydreaming about coats!

I put together a quick list of what I wanted to make this fall and winter, and it turns out that all I want to make is coats! Off the top of my head, I came up with a list of six (SIX!!!) coats/jackets that I want to sew (only four were for me, but still). Shocking! I’m making a jacket for my mom and one for my sister, using Pauline Alice’s Ninot jacket pattern, but I really need to narrow down options for myself. [ETA: There's a discount code for Pauline's shop good until Sun 9/7 PM- use "1YEAR" for 20% off!!] So I thought it would be fun to have an old-fashioned pattern geek-out focused on outerwear! It’s a long post, but if you make it to the end, there’s a fun surprise! (Note: all photos are property of their respective pattern companies, and are used with permission).

Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket

I already have the Gerard coat pattern by République du Chiffon. Dudes, I love this style. It’s really, really (probably intentionally) similar to an Isabel Marant coat that I love so much that it makes me feel kind of weird and sweaty. (Sidebar: if I were rich and frivolous, Isabel Marant would take ALL my money. Good thing I can sew!) I’m not 100% sold on the dropped-shoulder look on me, but I still want to try this pattern. (If you’re not sold on this pattern yet, check out this version on the Made by 6 blog! If I ever saw her in real life in that jacket I would grab it and run!) Bonus: this pattern is in English, so if you’ve been wanting to try RDC but don’t speak French, here’s your chance!

République du Chiffon Gérard

Next up, the Yona Wrap Coat by Named. Setting aside the irritating premise of a “Native American-inspired” collection (it’s not like there’s a giant group of “Native Americans” with one singular history and culture, people!), I’m drawn to this coat. It’s similar to the Gerard coat, but has one of my favorite details, a raglan sleeve, plus a fun cocoon-y shape. I also really like the fabric they used in the sample. Stripes FTW!

Named Yona Wrap Coat

Here’s another pattern I found that’s super cute- the Malu Coat, by Schnittchen. I’ve never used one of their patterns, but I really like this look. I rarely like/use hoods (I prefer a stand-up collar and a hat), but this one just looks so cozy and sweet.

Schnittchen Malu Coat

Here’s a fun one! It’s a new Burda plus size pattern, Paneled Wrap Cardigan 9/2014 (but let’s be honest, it’s totally a coat). Check out the line drawing- this design is chock-full of delicious seamlines! Wouldn’t this look amazing in a soft gray wool with tons and tons of topstitching?

Burda Paneled Wrap Cardigan (Plus Size) 9/2014 #137

Alright, I’ll reluctantly leave my favorite territory, Slouchy Coat Land, and venture into more classic territory. Here’s a timeless coat, V8884. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at sewing a trench coat for the longest time, but I have a RTW one from my pre-sewing days and can’t really justify owning two trench coats. Someday when mine dies I’ll sew one up… wouldn’t it be fun to have one in a crazy color?

Vogue V8884

OK, I didn’t just pick this next one because it’s animal print… but that didn’t hurt. This is Vogue V1365, a double-breasted wrap coat. There’s something so glamorous about a coat like this- I’d pair it with a floppy felt hat and oversized glasses and let everyone (OK, no one) think I’m an undercover starlet!

Vogue V1365

Speaking of classics, it doesn’t get more classic than Burda’s Barbour jacket for fellas! I’m not sure I’m up to the task of stitching up a coat for Man Friend, but I loooooooooooooove a man in a Barbour, so maybe I should just go for it! I’ll definitely do it if I come across some nice waxed cotton in my travels. Gorgeous!

Burda Men’s Barbour Jacket 10/2010 #137

OK, so this one is an imaginary pattern, but I’m crossing my fingers that Jen from Grainline releases a pattern for her delicious toggle coat! Does it make me a stalker to admit that I already have fabric set aside for one of these? Please don’t take out a restraining order on me, Jen! I just want my own Paddington Bear coat!!! [ETA: Pattern coming for this coat in the fall!!!!!]

Grainline Studio Northwoods Toggle Coat

Alright, that brings us to the end of this parade ‘o’ coats, so here’s your surprise! When I wrote to Silke of Schnittchen fame for permission to use her photos, she offered to give away THREE Malu coat patterns to Ginger Makes readers! How sweet is that! They’re not even PDFs- they’re paper patterns- and shipping is included! So, if you’d like to be entered to win, click here and give me your name and email! I’ll close the giveaway on Friday, September 12th at noon EST and choose three winners at random shortly thereafter. Good luck!

OK, it’s question time! Did you find any of these looks inspiring? What are your favorite coat patterns? Do you like sewing outerwear? Any tips or plans for sewing coats or jackets? What’s on your sewing table?

Ginger Made: McCall’s 6552, or, the Psychedelic Caftan

Guys, Clio made me do it. I’ve had caftans on the brain ever since she posted the beautiful caftan she made for her mom. And of course, if we’re going to go caftan, we may as well go completely over the top and make a psychedelic caftan!

M6552 | Ginger Makes

I decided to make this for August’s Mood Sewing Network project and was immediately drawn to this printed cotton at Mood Fabrics NYC. I tried to convince Man Friend that he needed a matching shirt, but he wasn’t on board. Just think how cool we would look together, like a two-person luau! MISSED OPPORTUNITY, DUDE.

M6552 | Ginger Makes

The fabric is probably a bit on the stiff side for a caftan, but I don’t mind at all. I like how breezy cotton feels on a hot day! Sometimes drapier fabrics can feel a little too warm when they cling to your skin. But I imagine this style would look really lovely in something like rayon challis.

M6552 | Ginger Makes

The pattern is McCall’s 6552, a Fashion Star pattern. It’s really, really simple to put together, since the bodice is made from one single pattern piece. Crazy, right? The center back is cut on the fold, and the front is folded over the back and stitched from waist to the sleeve hem, forming giant kimono sleeves. The bodice is sewn to the skirt with a 7/8″ seam allowance, which is then folded under and stitched down to form a casing for the drawstring. Clever! The waistband is gently curved in the front, which I really like. It’s much more flattering than a straight-up empire waist.

M6552 | Ginger Makes

Holy cow, what’s happening with my face here?! I’m posting this despite the uggitude of this pic so you can see the gigantic batwing-ness of the sleeves!

One thing to know about this pattern is that it’s really low cut, which is not good for me. I took a note from Coco and extended the center front at the waist level by about 3/4″ to form an overlap. I wish I could have overlapped it a bit more, but in my size, that was the most I could do before I ran off the fold of the fabric. Speaking of size, after looking at the finished dimensions, I decided to cut a size smaller than my measurements indicated.

M6552 | Ginger Makes

Overall, this was a really fun project- the fabric and pattern were so easy to work with, but the final garment makes a big impact. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to get away with wearing this dress multiple times in a week… somehow I think people will notice! :)

OK, before we go… I need to announce the winner of the Casual Sweet Clothes giveaway! Not counting duplicate comments and folks who didn’t want to enter, we had 71 entries. The winner is…

…#56, Katy!

Congrats, Katy! I’ll be in touch with you. :) Alright, guys, what’s on your sewing table??

Ginger Does Home Dec!

Whaaaaaaat? OK, I’ll be honest… there’s almost nothing I’d rather not do than sew home dec stuff. I’m just not into it! And I’m really not good at interior design or picking out things that go together in my apartment- it’s a pretty basic setup chez Ginger! So when Julie at Mood asked if I’d like to do a special project to celebrate the opening of Mood’s new home dec showroom, I was like, “No, thanks!”. Not my cup ‘o’ tea! Fast forward a few days, and I get a rare, unprompted sewing request from Man Friend to make some curtains for our bedroom (we have blinds, but they’re looking pretty rough these days). How can I say no to him? So, I emailed Julie to say I was in and headed for Mood!

The new showroom is bright, spacious, and located in the lobby of the building Mood occupies (they’re on the second floor). It’s such a great space for inspiration! I was immediately drawn to these two fabrics, annnnnnnnd the second I saw them, I put the thought of curtains right out of my mind and decided to make some pillows for the living room.

home dec sewing | Ginger Makes

These are both Waverly fabrics, and they’re 100% cotton. The blue one with the animal print is called “Mexicali”, and the red floral is called “Mayan Medallion”. They feel like canvas, and have a nice heft. This fabric choice was unconsciously influenced by my recent trip to Svensk Tenn in Stockholm, a super fun and fancy design store (check out their site! it’s majorly droolworthy! I definitely wanted to buy e v e r y t h i n g in the store!). I didn’t realize until a few days after buying this fabric that it’s got a very similar feel to Svensk Tenn’s special exhibit of textiles and items inspired by Mexican folk art.

Envelope-style closure

I used a simple envelope-style closure for these so I can easily slip them off to clean them. Although I’m never motivated to sew home dec items, these are probably the easiest things I’ve ever sewn. EVER. So easy. So fast. Why don’t I do this more often, people?


The pillows we had on the couch previously were a gift and have seen a fair amount of wear and tear, thanks to the pugs co-opting them to use as beds. So this is an awesome upgrade! They add a great burst of color to the living room without overpowering a small space that doesn’t get much natural light. Plus, they pick up on the colors in the framed prints we have hanging throughout the living room. Hopefully now things look a little less hodge-podge and a bit more intentional!


Don’t worry- the pugs have already adopted the new pillows! And I’m even energized to make the curtains for Man Friend after this painless sewing experience, so it’s a happy ending all around! Home dec for the win!

OK, guys- honest truth… do you sew things that your partner/roommate/kid/parent requests? And how do you feel about sewing home dec? What are some easy projects that can revamp your home?




Book Report: Casual Sweet Clothes (+ Giveaway!)

Hi, guys! It’s been kind of a gloomy week around here, with people noticeably feeling down and the weather cool and rainy. It feels much later than August, almost like fall has already arrived. I still have a bit of summer sewing queued up, but it feels kind of silly- how much wear will I get out of sundresses before the season changes? So I started thinking about fall sewing and remembered I have a book to show you!

Laurence King Publishing sent me a copy of Casual Sweet Clothes to review before its release on August 26th. It includes 18 patterns, and unlike some of the Japanese sewing books I’ve reviewed before, they’re mainly for separates. There are three dress patterns, but the rest are for tops, pants, shorts, skirts, and even jackets… 5 jackets! I think you guys know how I feel about jackets… love love love ‘em!

Here’s the pattern that I was immediately smitten with, “flared jacket with raglan sleeves”. I love me a slouchy jacket, and this is just the ticket for early fall. I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really like it. I can’t decide what kind of fabric I would use for this- what would you use? I definitely wouldn’t do army green. :)

While this dress would look TERRIBLE on me, I like the idea of colorblocking in two neutral colors. I’ve not really been into the colorblocking thing, but this kind of sparks my interest.

Laurence King provided a copy to give away to a US reader, yay! So if you’d like to enter the giveaway, let me know in the comments below! I’ll pick a winner with a random number generator. Let’s close the giveaway a week from today, Wednesday, August 20th at 11P EST.

OK, what’s on your fall (or spring) sewing list? What are you most excited to sew and wear in the upcoming season?

Dude Sewing: McCall’s 6044, v.2 (or, the Shark Week Shirt!)

So… a word of explanation. Shark Week is a pretty big deal chez Ginger. Man Friend looks forward to it every year, and loves to kick off the week with a bang each summer. So, when I was watching “Sharknado 2: The Second One”, I was struck with the idea to search for shark fabric to make a surprise Shark Week shirt for the fella!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

I found this crazy print at Fabric 313 on Etsy- it’s called “Kanvas by Benartex for Ocean Avenue”, and it looks like it’s still available. It’s got a quilting cotton weight and drape, but I’m wondering if it’s not 100% cotton because it doesn’t wrinkle at all.

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

Somebody doesn’t like modeling

This is McCall’s 6044, view A. Last time I made view E, which has long sleeves and western-style detailing. I made that earlier this year, and with my recent back-to-back Alder shirtdresses, I was really in practice, so this come together in a flash! Isn’t it nice when you’re able to practice techniques until they become second nature? There’s definitely a benefit to making the same pattern multiple times! Plus, view A is really streamlined since there aren’t any sleeve plackets, cuffs, or yokes- sweet!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

I didn’t make any fit alterations (it’s a straight size medium), but after looking at the photos, I wonder if I shouldn’t narrow the sleeves a bit. There’s no drape at all in this fabric and the sleeves seem a little wide, especially compared to the slim fit of the shirt itself. But that’s an easy fix.

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

Overall, I’m happy with this.  It really cracks me up- it’s so over the top! Man Friend loves it, and even wore it to work today (!). So I’m counting that as a success!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes


What are you guys working on this week? Any dude sewing going on? Anyone else looking forward to watching “Great White Serial Killer” tonight?


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