Carolyn Pajamas!

Hi, guys! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and if you celebrated Canada Day or the 4th of July, that your weekends were extra festive!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

OK, while I have, overall, a really serviceable wardrobe that’s starting to reflect my style, I have to admit that when it comes to the “unseen” items, the situation is dire. Socks, underwear, pajamas… they’re all in sad, sorry shape! Since I began to sew very seriously a few years ago, I just haven’t had the interest in shopping, but it’s also seemed quite silly to spend time sewing things that will never be visible outside my house! So when evening rolls around, you’ll usually find me in a shabby t-shirt and a pair of nearly-transparent men’s pajama bottoms. Sexy stuff, I know! So when Gillian #sewingdare-d me to sew a pair of pajamas, I was excited! Just the kick in the pants that I needed to sew up some respectable jams!

I decided to make myself some fancypants PJs for the Mood Sewing Network*, so I picked out this crazy cotton poplin because, well, it includes: dogs, cats, cows, rabbits, birds, frogs, chickens, and farmers in straw hats! How could I say no to that? Then I opted for a bright lime-green shirting to use for the piping. No reason to wear boring pajamas!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

The pattern I used is the Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas. The pattern was a gift from Heather– thank you!!! These are classic, vintage-style pajamas with a modern cut. The pants are fitted a bit more through the hips than other pajama patterns I’ve made in the past, and the rise hits me right where I like it to in pajama pants, so they are really a much nicer fit than any of my RTW pajamas. There’s a notched collar and chest pockets on the top, and slash pockets in the bottoms. You have the option to do cuffs with piping, if you like, or you can sew plain hems. There are short- and long-sleeved tops, and you can choose from pants or shorts. Because the pants are more fitted and less unisex, trust the size chart and don’t size down.

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

The pattern instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The notched collar construction was a bit different than others I’ve sewn in the past because there isn’t a back neck facing, and while I found it quite difficult to attach the collar neatly at the neckline (by “quite difficult”, I mean, I had to unpick the collar approximately ten times, no exaggeration!), but I finally got it done and it looks pretty good. If you haven’t done piping before, Heather walks you through the steps quite clearly. Let’s see… I used buttons from my stash and I went rogue, using 1″ elastic instead of 1.5″, because that’s what I had in hand. LAWS ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN! I made no attempt to pattern match because life is too short… they’re PAJAMAS. Oh! One last thing! I’ve never used a copyshop pattern before because they’re so expensive to print at chain office stores, but I discovered Flash Blue Printing in Brooklyn- you email them the PDF, and they print them out for $5/sheet, regardless of the size of the sheet. Even better, they understood me immediately when I told them I needed them printed without scaling. They’re pretty far off the beaten path, but it might be worth it to go when you have a few to print out at once. Definitely worth the price to avoid sticking together a million sheets of letter paper. And folks in other towns, try to find a blueprinting shop!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

Here’s the funny thing about the piping… now that I’m doing fancy upholstery, I spend SO MUCH TIME making and applying piping. So it’s kind of goofy that I would elect to do it in my free time, no? But instead I was excited to use the technique for a garment, kinda like when my job was sewing with faux fur and then I made a faux fur coat. Maybe I’m just nuts. ANYWAY, piping isn’t hard to do, but it does take some time. I made my own using cotton cording, which I covered in bias-cut strips of shirting. Don’t forget to pre-shrink your cording if necessary… it would be a real bummer if you went to all that work and then things went crazy in the wash! Also, there are special cording feet that you can purchase to make piping with, but personally, I just use the adjustable zipper foot that came with my Juki (it looks like this). You can stitch very close to the cording with it and you don’t have to worry about using a certain size of cording… one size fits all with the zipper foot! If you’ve never made your own piping before, I really recommend giving it a go- it’s fun to sew and it really adds a nice touch to your finished garment!

Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas | Ginger Makes

Not gonna lie, now that I have these, I’m pondering a second pair of summer bottoms and a nice flannel-y set for the fall! I feel pretty fancy swanning around the house in them! Thanks for the pattern, Heather, and thanks for the dare, Gillian! Alright, guys, ‘fess up: what sad items lurk in your wardrobe, begging for an upgrade? Saggy sweatpants? Stained t-shirts? Come on… tell me I’m not the only one with dark secrets hidden in my closet!

Just add coffee!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Grainline Morris Blazer x2!

Hi, guys! I hope you’re all well. Before we start talking sewing, I just want to take a moment to say that if you’re reading from Baltimore or Nepal, you’re in my thoughts and prayers. The firsthand updates from my sister in Baltimore and a childhood friend in Nepal have been so heartbreaking. Praying for healing, restoration, and safety for everyone!

OK, let’s talk about the Morris blazer. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of this pattern for ages! In fact, I’ve had a piece of ikat linen stashed away for it for something like two years! So I was surprised to find out that it was designed for stretch wovens or stable knits… pleasantly surprised! I had a RTW double-breasted blazer in French terry that I wore until it was dead, and never found a replacement. I frequently wear my woven blazers, but it’s nice to have something even easier to wear for situations where you’ll be running around or taking your jacket on and off.

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

So, for April’s Mood Sewing Network project*, I ran to Mood with 15 minutes to spare before my evening class (NOT RECOMMENDED!) and raced straight up to the neoprene section. I’d planned to look for a fun print, but this color jumped out at me and I had to have it! As I had the fabric cut, another shopper spotted it and hovered, waiting to grab the bolt as soon as I was done with it. The color is that good!

Now, neoprene is one of those fabric fads that seem to pop up from time to time. All of a sudden it’s everywhere! I’ve been curious about it for a while, but I’ve mostly seen it used for bodycon dresses or pencil skirts and that’s just not my cup of tea (this particular fabric was labeled as Alexander Wang, and I’m pretty sure it’s what he used for this dress). But I thought it would be a fun experiment to try a nontraditional fabric for a blazer and thought it might work for the Morris since it’s such a streamlined design.

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Before I sew with a new fabric type, I like to stitch samples to make sure I’m making good decisions before I start in on my garment. I had best results using my walking foot, a 75/11 ballpoint needle, and a regular straight stitch. Since the fabric is pretty thick, I had to lengthen my stitches a bit to get them to a normal size. I found that the fabric layers slipped a bit as I sewed, so I had to sew slowly and use lots of pins. I tested out binding the seams, but in the end decided to reduce bulk by just leaving them unfinished. As you can see, the lapels have tons of body in a fabric like this, which I like, but if I changed my mind, I could tack them down to the jacket front with a couple of teeny stitches.

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

I interfaced the facing pieces with Pro-Tricot Deluxe Fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply (don’t worry- I fused a sample piece first to make sure nothing would melt!). But pressing is pointless on neoprene, so I topstitched the seam allowances down. I actually love how this looks- it gives the jacket a sporty feel. And when I needed to turn under the seam allowances of the facings, I machine stitched on the fold line so the perforations would help me make a crisp fold. The only place I ran into trouble was at the sleeve head. There’s no way to topstitch that seam, so I opted to catch stitch the seam allowances down. You can see slight indentations from the stitches on the right side, like a blind hem, but that looks much better than a mushy seam! Speaking of the sleeves, I got to do my favorite sleeve trick, which is hemming them before I set them in. It’s so much easier to navigate those little sleeve openings when you’re not wrestling the entire jacket out of the way!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Let’s talk about the pattern. It goes together quickly, which was so fun and satisfying compared to the sloooooooow tailoring projects that have been taking up most of my sewing time lately. It’s unlined and there aren’t any pockets,which was great for a keeping the bulk down. I did notice that the facing isn’t smooth where it meets the front hemline, like Lizzy mentioned. This goes away when the collar is flipped up, so I think the lapel rolling over in heavy, slick fabric makes the front sag a bit. I will probably go back and catch stitch the facings in place (or maybe even topstitch them!). Easy fix!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Otherwise everything went together smoothly and I didn’t have any issues. I made a 4, my usual Grainline size. I could stand to do a small narrow shoulder adjustment (I usually should, but I’m lazy and often just skip it), but otherwise everything fits well. The stretch of the neoprene is really pretty awesome- I had so much fun stretching my arms out to see how unrestricted my movement was in a stretchy blazer! I could totally throw a haymaker in this thing without popping a seam! Good to know that my outfit won’t get messed up if I get caught up in a street fight on my way to an important meeting!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

I was so pumped up after making this that I immediately cut out another! Anybody recognize this fabric? It’s leftover from my Lola dress two years ago! I’d hoped to turn it into a knit Victoria blazer, but was never confident about choosing a lining or dealing with the lapels in a knit. But the fabric was perfect for another Morris! Stash-busting win!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

Now I’ve got a pile of fabric stacked up on my cutting table, just crying out to be blazers! I may be making nothing but Morrises for the next little while!!!

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

How about you guys? Tempted to try this pattern? What kind of fabric would you use? And have you tried using neoprene? Any fabric fads you’re excited to try? Any you’re avoiding like the plague? Do tell!!!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Ginger Made: Coco Jacket!

Hi, guys! I hope your week is off to a great start! One of my favorite things about sewing clothes is that you can find unique ways to make a style your own. For example, you can take the edgy, menswear-inspired moto jacket, but make it up in pastel lace,  and you’ve created a unique look that really shows off your personal style! Personally, I’m a really casual dresser, but I’m always looking for ways to dress up my everyday wardrobe a bit without looking too dressed up. So, I tried the classic Chanel-inspired silhouette, but in a casual (and extremely washable!) fabric that screams “me”!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

I knew right away that I wanted to use a plaid flannel cotton for my take on this look, and what better way to go than a classic buffalo plaid in red and black? So for my Mood Sewing Network project* this month, I used this flannel that I bought with my allowance a while ago and then didn’t end up using. I’m so glad I saved it for this project! My original plan was to quilt the flannel with a layer of cotton batting- wouldn’t that have looked cool?? But after further reflection, I started to think that the jacket might be too warm with the added layer (since it’s a cropped jacket with three-quarter length sleeves, I won’t be wearing it on very cold days). But I wanted it to have a bit more body, so I fused all the pieces to ProSheer Elegance Light, except for the facings (I used a medium-weight weft interfacing for them). I like the effect of this- it’s not as drapey and baggy as flannel is on its own, but it’s not stiff, either.

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

Now, there are quite a few patterns you can use to make a little French jacket like this, but I chose the Coco jacket by Schnittchen. Silke from Schnittchen kindly sent it for me to try out after I found her company during my autumn coat obsession. As a fairly rectangular person, a really boxy jacket can look pretty terrible on me, so I decided to use this pattern over a few similar styles because because it includes front darts and there’s a fair amount of shaping in the center back and side seams. Plus, I like the rounded corners at the center front- I feel like they help to keep things from looking too boxy, too. I really enjoyed putting together this pattern, and found that this two-piece sleeve gave me the nicest-fitting sleeves I’ve ever had in a blazer! Just for reference, I made a size 36 and didn’t make any alterations. This was my first time using a Schnittchen pattern and while the instructions don’t include drawings, I didn’t need them (and there is a step-by-step photo tutorial on her blog if you need it). Also, I just noticed that her PDFs are only 5 euros, (about 5 USD these days!), what?! I’m pretty sure I’ll give into temptation soon and order the Tina jacket & vest pattern! I’m thinking it will make for a very fancy sweatshirt! [Sidenote: have you seen Kelli’s version of this jacket? I’m hoping that I bump into her in a dark alley so I can just grab it and run!]

Schnittchen Tina vest

One thing I noticed is that for the sleeves to go in nicely, the sleeve seam and the side seam don’t line up- they line up with notches instead. One nice thing about this pattern is that the notches are numbered so you know exactly where they’re supposed to match up! Clever! Also, a tip if you make this pattern: when I go around curved edges like the center front, in addition to shortening my stitch length, I also sew one side with the facing up and one side with the jacket front up. This way you’re stitching the exact same curve in the same direction on each front (from top to bottom in my case, but you could also sew bottom to top). If you’re a very accurate stitcher, you probably don’t need to do this, but in my experience, my curves are much more symmetrical when I do this!

OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room… the PLAID elephant. GUYS. I totally failed to match the plaid at the side seams. Here’s the thing- I always use this technique to match the front, back, and sleeve pieces at a spot 2″ below the armscye, BUT, I completely forgot to factor in the dart! As a result, everything matches… between the armpit and the dart! Ack! I spent ages matching this and it doesn’t look I even tried! I didn’t have enough fabric to re-cut the front pieces, so I decided to just live with it and really, it’s not the end of the world… as long as I don’t think about it too much because HOLY COW SO ANNOYING!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

I lined the jacket with a Mood fabric I’ve had in my stash for a very long time. Now, I love me an animal print, so when I needed to buy some black lining, naturally I grabbed the black-on-black animal print! There is a bit of disagreement in my home regarding the exact animal we’re dealing with- the fella feels that it’s python print, while I’m CONVINCED that it’s a small-scale giraffe print because EWWWWWWW PYTHONS NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Obviously it’s a small-scale giraffe print. Wait, that makes me want to see a small-scale giraffe!!! Scientists, get on that! Remember the miniature elephants in Jurassic Park? I’m still waiting for that to happen!

Oops, I’ve been sidetracked by tiny giraffes! ANYWAY, I’m really happy with this little jacket and am glad to have a little more tomboy chic in my wardrobe. I’d like to make another version in something fun and textured, like jacquard or a chunky wool knit! This is the PERFECT style to use up special pieces from your stash- it doesn’t take very much fabric, and will look really different depending on your fabric choice. I’m already planning a few more! Now, tell me, do you like to sew classic shapes in untraditional fabrics? What’s the most fun you’ve had mixing up a look? Jackie O sheath dress in vinyl? Classic trousers in quilted nylon? Peacoat in neon boucle? Do tell!

Schnittchen Coco Jacket | Ginger Makes

PS- I’m wearing my Coco jacket with my new favorite t-shirt, the Megan Nielsen Maker tee! I’m so pleased to support this awesome collaboration between Megan and Freeset– read more about it here! I’m not even kidding when I say that when I wear this tee, I basically beg people to let me tell them about it! Fashion with a heart is so dear to me, so THANK YOU for for this opportunity to support women in need, Megan!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Wool + Pleather Linden Minidress!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well and sewing up a storm! OK, question: do you have seasonal color palettes? I know I do! Sometimes I feel like my closet is split between two different people- winter me and summer me! In warm weather, I’m all about bright colors and fun prints, but in the winter, I wear much more subdued colors, like heathered browns, navy, or, my very favorite, greys. My cold weather clothing drawer is almost entirely grey! The unexpected benefit of this is that I have a really, really easy time getting dressed in the winter- my separates all mix and match, and for once in my life, even my boots, tights, hat, and scarf get along with the rest of what I’m wearing, yay!

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

So, for February’s Mood Sewing Network project*, I decided to give one last hurrah to Lady Grey and choose this delicious wool blend sweater knit. Guys. It’s SO thick and warm, but it’s amazingly lightweight. It’s a nice firm knit, so I don’t have to worry about it being too sheer or bagging out, but the wrong side has tons of loft so it’s really incredibly comfortable in cold weather. I planned to look for a bit of pleather in black for a bit of contrast, but I found this beautiful grey Rag & Bone pleather in the vinyl section on the third floor and couldn’t resist it. I really like that the contrast comes from the textures rather than color- it’s subtle, but fun.

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

The pattern I used is the Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt. This is actually the fourth Linden I’ve made this month, but I haven’t blogged any of the others. I made one for my #LindenSwap partner, another for my bestie, then one for me. So, this pattern was on my mind and I decided to just go for it. In Grainline sizing, my hips are two sizes smaller than my bust, so I just chose the size based on my bust measurement and dropped the hem by 9″ to give me this minidress length. The extra size through the hips gives me plenty of ease to move and sit. I used the hem band piece unaltered, since I didn’t add any additional width, but I shortened the sleeves by 4.5″ and adjusted the cuffs accordingly to give me a three-quarter-length sleeve. If I’d thought this through a bit more, I would have planned for the sleeves to finish at this length without a cuff… the cuff seam allowance is a bit bulky. I thought about cutting off the cuffs and turning under a hem, but I don’t really want to lose the sleeve length, at least not while it’s this cold! Lori suggested using the pleather for the cuffs with a v-notch detail, which could be really cute and would give me more ease (since the pleather doesn’t have any stretch, which you usually want in a cuff).

Grainline Studio Linden Minidress | Ginger Makes

For the pleather details, I cut two pieces 2″ by 24″ (a little longer than my sleeve length) and lightly pressed the long edges under by 3/8″. I tested this first on scraps, but I was able to use a warm, dry iron on the wrong side without any damage to the pleather. Then, I centered the strips over the shoulder notch and the midpoint of the wrist on the flat sleeve pieces and taped them in place with light masking tape. If I’d had a fabric glue stick, I would have used that instead, but I didn’t, so I was stuck with tape. I edgestitched the pleather in place, sewing in the same direction (i.e. top to bottom) for each side to help prevent pulling and puckering. I was a bit nervous about sewing pleather to a knit, so I did a few tests before I sewed on the actual sleeves. I had success using an 80/12 universal needle and holding the fabric in place firmly in front of and behind the presser foot so it wouldn’t stretch out of shape or drag. Then I trimmed off the excess pleather and inserted the sleeves like usual. Ta-da!

Ahhhhh… look at that soothing grey-on-grey action. It’s so comforting! It makes me want to get back into my winter cocoon and stay there til spring! Now, do you have a seasonal color palette, or am I just a crazy person? Do tell!

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Ginger Made: Gerard #2, or, I Always Wanted to be a Tenenbaum, You Know?

Hi, guys! Hope all is well with you, and that if you’re here in the northeast, you’re not too tired from digging yourselves out of the snow! I must confess to secretly being glad about the snowfall… what better excuse to wear my new faux fur coat?!

Friends, I’ve wanted a coat like this for many years (to be exact, since I first saw The Royal Tenenbaums way back in 2001, when I was but a wee college freshman. I fell in love with the movie, the soundtrack, and Margot’s coat). I’m so excited to finally make one! I know that sewing with faux fur can be intimidating to many, but at the workshop where I began working this past summer, we sew with it all the time, so I’ve gotten in some good practice and I want you all to know that it’s not hard at all! It takes some time, to be sure, but it’s not difficult and it’s so rewarding! DO NOT FEAR, DUDES! Moody Margot Tenenbaum coats for everyone!

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

So, I decided that my first Mood Sewing Network* project of 2015 would be The Coat! I spent ages at Mood, torn between different fabrics, and had a really hard time making a decision! But this golden fabric looked really expensive and lush, plus it’s imported from France, ooh la la! As a bonus, I look like a giant golden retriever, and who doesn’t want that? Decision made!

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

I considered a few different patterns, but in the end, opted to use the République Du Chiffon Gerard pattern again, the same one I used for my bouclé coat. Doesn’t it look different in fur??? I love how much fabric choice can alter a pattern’s look! Plus, this is a pretty simple design, which is key when you’re working with faux fur. Each seam takes time to prep and finish, so you don’t want to add extra work for yourself, plus the fur itself will obscure the lines, so there’s no point in making something with lots of design lines. Another thing to think about is that since fur is puffy, things look bigger in it, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing a shape. You can see how much bulkier this coat looks than the bouclé version!

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Since I didn’t want any unnecessary seams, I cut the coat back and the lower facing on the fold (originally they both had a seam at the center back). I also eliminated the patch pockets and instead made side-seam pockets for a smoother silhouette. Now, this is controversial, but I didn’t use any interfacing at all! I’d initially planned to baste in silk organza, but I decided I wanted a very soft look, so I skipped it. But I did tape the neckline, lapels, and any other area I thought might stretch, applying twill tape that I’d ironed to shrink with a catch stitch. Faux fur can get really heavy, so I wanted to make sure things wouldn’t sag and stretch out of shape over time. Likewise, I taped the roll line like I did last time. I meant to include a back stay again, buuuuuuut… I forgot. Oops! Also, I realized this time around that I made a slight mistake on my last Gerard by adding a seam allowance to the upper edge of the sleeve interfacing… this made my sleeves 1cm shorter than they should have been. The length is perfect with the 1cm added back in!

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

The most important thing of all when you’re dealing with faux fur is to check and double-check that your nap is going the right direction! It would be super uggo if one of your pieces is cut the wrong direction! It can help to make an arrow on all your pattern pieces just to make sure you’re positioning everything the right way. I had to re-cut the upper collar because I got confused and cut it the wrong way… I just barely had enough fabric to do this, phew! I sewed everything together with a longer straight stitch (around 3mm). After sewing the seams, I use a comb (just a regular plastic comb for hair!) to pull the fur out of the seam on both right and wrong sides, then I trim all the fur out of the seam allowance. I couldn’t press this fabric, so I just finger pressed the seams open and catch stitched them down. Slow, but it does the trick! I’m going to post some detailed tips on how to work with faux fur very soon, so keep an eye out for that!

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

If you sew a faux fur coat and decide to bag the lining, learn from my mistake and do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to turn it back out through a hole in the sleeve lining. Holy cow, that was a huge mistake! It’s not that the opening isn’t big enough, but rather that the coat is too bulky to pull through the sleeve itself. Turning it through an opening in the center back seam is a much better idea. :)

I splurged on kasha lining from A Fashionable Stitch for the coat, and it’s really, really nice! Kasha is a flannel-backed satin, much thicker and warmer than usual lining fabrics. For additional warmth, I interlined the coat with lambswool from Steinlauf & Stoller here in the city. The coat is so warm and snuggly… I love it! I used 2 yards of faux fur, 1.5 yards of lining, and 1 yard of lambswool (we had a miscommunication at the store,  but I was able to make it work by piecing one sleeve together… phew!).

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

I’m really pleased with my final coat! I’ve left off a closure for the time being as I’m still deciding what I want to do, but I’m leaning towards a large hook and eye so I can wear it open or closed without seeing any kind of closure (I’m thinking a snap might look kind of ugly when the coat is open). The whole thing is a bit over the top, but hey, it’s really fun to wear! Man Friend, on the other hand, isn’t so sure about this one. He was excited by the fabric (“you’ll look like a lemur!”), but when I tried on the finished product, he thought I looked like “an ewok”. Honestly, I thought he would go for a Joe Namath comparison, so an ewok is pretty flattering by comparison. :) I don’t care… I feel like a sassy starlet in this! No pictures, please! ;)

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

What do you think? Tempted to give faux fur a go??? It’s not hard, I promise! Now, tell me, what are you working on??? Anything fun? And, do you think golden retriever fur counts for Jungle January? ;)

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

Ginger Made: RDC Gerard Coat!!!!!

You guys you guys you guys it’s a fuchsia coat!!!! Please pardon the idiotic levels of excitement… it’s just that I’ve been working on this for ages and it’s finally done!

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

I knew that I wanted to try a coat in this silhouette when I first saw one about a year ago. I’d planned to make one last spring, but couldn’t quite get things together, so I was determined to make one this fall. Well, it’s my December Mood Sewing Network project, but, I mean, December is almost fall, so, better late than never. But I’m glad I got it done now as we’re having a patch of milder weather and I’ve gotten to wear it this week, yay!

Pattern:

I used République du Chiffon‘s Gerard coat, a pattern I’ve had my eye on for some time. It’s a style that I’m really into lately and have been quite anxious to try out, plus every version of this pattern that I’ve seen pop up online has made me want my own even more (check out Jolies Bobinesthree versions!!!)! However, I should tell you right away that there are some things you need to know if you’re considering this pattern. First, the instructions are minimal and the translation isn’t perfect. There are two steps that aren’t translated at all, so you have to find your own way if you don’t speak French. Second, if you aren’t a person who’s really into PDF patterns, you’ll probably hate this one. The pages didn’t match up very smoothly for me, so I had to futz and futz with them to get them to line up. It’s been ages since I printed this out, so it’s possible I could have had a setting wrong or my printer was acting up… I really can’t say! But once you’ve printed out the PDF, you have to trace it because the different pieces are printed on top of each other (like a Burda magazine), THEN you need to add the seam allowances. Ugh! The seam lines didn’t match up correctly, so I had to fix or ease them so they would match up (probably exacerbated, if not caused, by the fact that the PDF didn’t match up). Also, the pattern pieces are hand drafted and they’re named and numbered by hand and in French, so you need to refer back to the cutting chart in the pattern to make sure you know which piece is which. It also helps to re-label the pattern pieces with the more common English terms (“top of inside facing’ = back neck facing, for example) so you don’t get confused.

So, this pattern isn’t for the faint of heart and requires a bit more effort than most. But on the plus side, it wasn’t very expensive (I caught a 20% off sale in the Kollabora shop, so it only cost $8, a good value for someone like me who doesn’t have access to cheap Big 4 pattern sales in chain stores). And the style is exactly what I wanted, so, for me, it was worth it to use this pattern, even if it was a bit of a headache at times.

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Materials:

The fabric I used is a cotton/nylon bouclé from Mood Fabrics NYC that I bought wayyyyy back in March when Clare was visiting and we had a big group of sewers gathered together at the store. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I was WAY over-caffeinated and overexcited that day, so when I saw this bouclé with neon pink running through it, I lost my mind completely and bought three yards of it without even the slightest idea what I would do with it. I really find it odd that I bought it… it’s a weird color for me and I’m not sure what I was thinking. Let’s just blame this on Clare’s intoxicating presence! I used a total of two yards for the coat.

The lining and interlining were bought with this month’s Mood allowance. The lining is a stretch charmeuse, not something I would normally choose, but it was a perfect match to my outer fabric, so I had to have it! The interlining is a Theory wool-blend flannel, which I thought would add warmth without losing too much drape. I used 2.5 yards of lining and 2 yards of interlining.

Since the bouclé is so loosely-woven, I fused Pro-Sheer Elegance Light to every. single. piece. of the shell fabric to give it a bit more stability and opacity (weep for me, kids!). Then I used Pro-Weft Supreme Medium Fusible on all the pieces that the pattern suggested interfacing (collar, facings, etc.). [Sidenote: I am such a fan of Fashion Sewing Supply! I know I’ve recommended their interfacings before, but with this last order, their customer service really impressed me. They included a note with my order saying that the interfacing was about to go on sale, so they gave me an extra half yard to make up for the fact that I paid regular price for it! How nice is that?!]

I knew my big struggle with the bouclé would be to contain the fraying. Fusing all the pieces helped, but I also serged around every single piece for added security after this was suggested to me on Instagram by Brooke, Aunty Maimu, and Amanda. To recap, I cut out every single pattern piece in both the main fabric AND the interfacing, fused them all together, cut MORE interfacing for the parts that needed a heavier one and fused THOSE pieces again, THEN serged all the edges of each one of these pieces. This took approximately 9,853 hours.

The other difficulty with this fabric was that, because it’s a cotton/nylon blend, it’s not a huge fan of the iron. I had to keep the heat low and use a press cloth, but try to get the fusible to adhere to the fabric. And as you can imagine, with fabric that doesn’t want to press well, the seams didn’t want to stay flat, so I had to catch stitch them all open. This was tedious, but really improved the look of things.

Also, it didn’t even cross my mind until I’d finished sewing the whole coat that it would be impossible not to snag a bouclé coat on e v e r y t h i n g. Any tips for avoiding/fixing this???

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Construction:

I decided to work in a different order of operations than I usually would and construct the lining first to get it out of the way. Now, clearly I’ve been spending too much time around Puu and her little French jackets, because I found myself wanting a quilted lining! [Sidenote #2: I owe 1000 thanks to Puu for giving me SO many helpful suggestions, answering all my tailoring questions, and generally talking me off the ledge when I got overwhelmed and wanted to abandon the project. I couldn’t have done this without her expertise and cheerleading!] First, I cut out my interlining using the lining pattern pieces. Then, I chalked lines parallel to the grainline, 2″ apart across the width of each pattern piece, and quilted the lining to the interlining along those lines. Finally, I stitched all the way around each piece, just inside the seam allowance, to keep everything together. After that I assembled the lining the way I normally would, but, just like the shell fabric, the seam allowances didn’t want to press open nicely, so I had to catch them all flat. This was lots of work, but I really like the feel and functionality of the quilted lining, and I’m sure I’ll do it again!

Since I was already going a little overboard with this project, I decided to add a back stay (they’re used to stabilize coats through the shoulders). I used a bit of cotton shirting left over from my first Hazel dress and followed Tasia’s tutorial.  Hopefully this will help Gerard stand up to lots of wear!

I didn’t follow the pattern instructions for the lower facings and instead stitched them all together to form a lower facing unit that I sewed on in one fell swoop. I also changed the construction order a bit so it was closer to what I was used to (shoulders, side seams, sleeves, facings).

Since I wouldn’t be able to go crazy steaming the collar and lapels, it seemed important to tape the roll line so everything would roll over nicely. I cut twill tape a bit shorter than the length of the line and eased in the excess, which helps the lapel to roll, then I catch stitched it in place. Lisa has a great tutorial showing how to do this here! I wasn’t very sure how to find the roll line, so I assembled my shell first, then popped it on my dress form, saw where the lapel naturally wanted to roll, and chalked a line to mark it.

Where I really got confused in the pattern instructions was sewing the notched collar. There’s one hand drawing and a series of steps in French, but nothing in English, and I’d never sewn one before. I spent about three days procrastinating because I reallllly didn’t want to tackle this step. I kept researching and researching and getting overwhelmed. Luckily, Angela and Kelly both recommended this YouTube video in their Gerard posts, and I ended up following it and having good results (OK, I watched the part about the notched collar, beginning around the 15-minute mark, about 7 times, and didn’t watch anything past that).

As I sewed the collar, I catch stitched the seams open (the seam where the undercollar attaches to the back neckline, and the seam where the upper collar attaches to the facing). Then, to close the collar, I laid those two seams on top of each other and did a weird, loose catch stitch so they’re attached. Also, to properly sew a notched collar, you need to clip into the seam allowance all the way to the stitching line a few times, which terrified me, so I used Fray Check on the clips, and then got scared and went back and ironed a little patch of interfacing over them, so hopefully it won’t disintegrate!

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

One semi-stressful thing about this pattern is that it doesn’t give you the placement for the pockets or buttonhole, probably not a huge problem unless you’re majorly indecisive like me. I waited until I had assembled the shell so I could try it on and pin things in place (the only downside to this was that it was hard to keep the facings out of the way when I stitched on the pockets!). I decided to do just one button, and placed the buttonhole slightly below the breakpoint on the lapel (the place where the lapel starts to fold back on itself… sadly, it’s completely different from Point Break and has nothing to do with bank heists or meatball sandwiches). I angsted for the longest time about the pocket placement, but ended up with them about 3″ from the bottom of the hem and 2″ in from the side seams. I’m pretty happy with this, but I think the button looks a little dopey and should be a few inches lower. Ugh!

When I inserted the lining, I reviewed Grainline’s bagged lining tutorial since it had been a while since I’d last done it. I mostly followed this, but I also referenced the step-by-step photo tutorial for RDC’s Michelle blazer, since the lower facings were the same style. Also, Jen tells you in her tutorial to attach the lining to the shell at the underarm using a thread chain, which I forgot how to do, so this Susan Khalje Threads video was helpful.

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Shocking Confession:

Guys, I didn’t make a muslin for this. Idiotic, I know! For some reason after I’d gotten all my pattern pieces ready, I dove right into cutting the fabric. I almost wish I’d cut a size larger so this was slouchier (like Kelly did), but maybe that would have overwhelmed me. Dunno! I could use a bit more room through the hips, but this is totally wearable.

Dramatic Conclusion:

The whole time I was making this, I was really unsure about how the project would turn out. It felt like it had the potential to be a colossal failure! But, now that I’m done, I really like this coat! It’s not perfect, not even close, but it’s definitely workable and you know what? I just feel happy traveling around in a cloud of neon fuchsia! I’m usually pretty nitpicky about issues in garments I’ve made, but the imperfections sort of fade away when I wear this. It’s just a happy coat. Yay!

Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

So tell me, what are you sewing these days? Making any outerwear? Holiday outfits? Do tell!

 

Ginger Made: Isabel Undercover!

Hi, guys! I hope you don’t mind if I share another wardrobe basic today!

One of the best things about sewing is that you can take an idea and make it your own. You know, when you see something and like it, but wish it was just a little bit different? The idea from this came from a sweater from Isabel Marant’s Pre-Fall 2014 collection (you guys, I super love her stuff and kinda want to wear everything in that whole collection, even if I would look less Svelte Parisienne and more Crazy Old Lady). I loved the colorblocking, particularly in grey and brown. They look really cool together and are a fun alternative to the black and brown combos I’ve been seeing lately in fashion spreads. I briefly thought about knitting my own version of this sweater, but I didn’t really like the chunkiness of the yarn (you KNOW you’d be sweating wearing that thing!). Instead I decided to find sweater knits to sew my own version for my November Mood Sewing Network project!

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

I’d hoped to find some rustic sweater knits to closely mimic the inspiration image, but when I saw these gorgeous wool jerseys at Mood, I scooped them up. They’re nearly identical to each other in weight and feel, which seemed important for colorblocking, and the colors are really nice. Yay!

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

I used my go-to raglan pullover pattern, Papercut Patterns’ Undercover Hood (minus the hood!) and tweaked it to add the contrast yoke detail. Wanna know how? I just dropped a straight line 5″ down from center front and then squared over to the side seam. I matched this to the side seam on the back piece and then squared over to center back so the yokes would line up. Add seam allowances and you’re good to go! Easy!

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

I love sewing with wool jersey… it’s stable and easy to sew, and responds to the iron more than most knits. It’s also really nice to wear. I love the extra bit of warmth you get from wool, and I like that it’s a classic, dressier alternative to regular jersey. And, just between us gals, I’ve been wearing my other two Undercover (non-)Hoods basically all the time and really need to give them a break, so I’m glad to add another one to the mix! [Sidebar: this is the second pattern I’ve made three times this year… what’s happening to me? Am I turning into a Pattern Repeat Offender?]

Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood | Ginger Makes

My finished sweater isn’t an exact replica of the inspiration garment, but it’s really wearable and is just my style! Plus, it’s much more affordable than Isabel’s version, which is out of my price range until she decides to make me her muse and pay me in clothes! (Are you listening, Isabel? Will work for clothes!) ;)

Now, let’s have a little fun! If you want to, post a link to a garment you’re inspired by and share how you’d like to make it your own! What pattern would you use to make it? What changes would you make? Do tell!

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