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. 🙂

Top 5 of 2014: Hits + Misses!

Hi, guys! A belated Merry Christmas to you, if you celebrate, and an early Happy New Year! Hope the holiday season is finding you well and with plenty of time to hang out with loved ones and just relax!

One thing I’ve loved about the end of the year the past two years has been participating in Gillian‘s Top 5 posts. It’s really fun to stop and reflect on the previous year, and to move forward into the new year with a better idea of what you love to make and wear. So I’m excited to do it again this year!

OK, let’s start off with the misses. They’re the most fun, right?

5.) Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

I got tricked by the fun fuchsia animal print into buying a fabric in a color that I hate hate HATE wearing. There’s something about pale grey that makes me look and feel gross (which is weird, because I love medium and dark greys). Also, this shape was a new one for me, and I fell into the old trap of sewing something that I would never buy in a store. I wore this a few times, but ended up giving it away. I can’t even stand looking at these photos! I hate black pants (they’ve also been given away) and my skin looks LAVENDER in these pics. Yuck! Well, at least it was fun to sew!

4.) Nettie Bodysuit #2

I couldn’t think of a single way to wear this- it doesn’t go with anything in my closet and it looks especially idiotic with my usual low-cut jeans. I never sewed anything to pair it with, which probably tells you how much I liked it. Dumb fabric/pattern pairing!

3.) Colette Geometric Laurel-ish

Here’s another garment I didn’t wear even once. There’s just something about it that I don’t like, which is a shame, because I loved the fabric. It wrinkled when you just looked at it, and was kinda messy as a result. Plus, looking back at these pics, I just don’t think I got the fit right. I’d love to have a go-to shift dress in my arsenal, but I haven’t achieved that yet. Blerg!

2.) Honey Cardigan

Why did I spend hours and hours and hours and hours knitting a cardigan when I don’t even like wearing them? Why did my buttonholes only fit buttons better suited for a clown? Why do bad sweaters happen to (basically) good people? WHY?

1.) Simplicity 1690 Crop Top + Gathered Skirt

OK. IN MY DEFENSE, everyone on Pinterest wearing a crop top + midi skirt combo looks super cute! But my proportions are off and this is Frump City, Population Me. Also, HOLY COW, my FAR too anatomically-correct pattern placement!!! Try and tear your eyes away from the, uh, headlights. TRY. This whole outfit is an atrocity.

Let’s turn to happier topics, shall we? Here are my top 5 hits of 2014! [Sidenote: I wanted to cheat and choose extras, but, this post is already long enough, so know that I had some runners-up that I spared you from. I’m looking at you, Gerard!]

5.) Style Arc Romy Anorak!

This project was a real learning experience for me, which I loved. I had never really been into more detailed projects, but after this, I could totally get the appeal of taking on something difficult. It’s a real confidence builder to work through something without good instructions and to find your own way of doing things when you want to change up a pattern. Best of all, I really like the end results! I wore this tons and tons this year, and loved that it replaced an ugly “technical” jacket that I never felt good in.

4.) Ebony + Nanette Scout Tee

I made this at the tail-end of warm weather (like, late October), so I didn’t get to wear it much this year, but man, oh, man, do I love it! I love the exaggerated shape, the color combo, and the bold print. It’s just so fun! Plus, it felt like a collaboration between myself and several cool, fun bloggers, none of which I’ve ever met in real life, and I love that it’s a testament to the strength and warmth of the weird and amazing online sewing community. I’m so excited to wear this come spring!

3.) Alder Shirtdress, v.2

This was my jam for summer 2014! I looooooved the Alder Shirtdress pattern, so much, in fact, that I made three versions! This one is my favorite- I finally worked up the nerve to cut into a treasured piece of Vlisco wax print, and I’m so happy I did! The large-scale print pairs happily with the loose silhouette and it’s just so fun to wear. This was my summer uniform and I felt so happy and at ease in it.

2.) Isabel Undercover Sweatshirt

I made a concerted effort to sew more wardrobe basics this year, and I’m really happy that I did. I’m a really, really casual dresser 90% of the time, but you would never know that from the way I used to sew! The unfortunate side effect of not shopping, but also not sewing basics, was that my everyday wardrobe was in terrible condition at the beginning of this year. You could find me most days in some sort of ugly, worn, free, unisex t-shirt, paired with an ugly, worn, free, unisex hoodie. It’s hard to feel confident dressed like that! Enter the Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood, the other pattern I made three versions of this year. It’s wearable, looks really different made up in different fabrics, and has made dressing easy and fun during the week. This wool jersey version, based on an Isabel Marant sweater I saw a picture of and loved, is my favorite by a mile.

1.) M6553, v.2

It should be hard to choose a favorite garment for the year, but this was a no-brainer. Every time I look in my closet, it just jumps out at me… I love it! If I could only use a single piece of clothing to tell people who I am, it would probably be this dress. It’s bright, fun, and relaxed, things that I hope describe me (on good days). I love love love this fabric (another peer pressure collaboration THANKS CHARLOTTE) and I’m so glad I used it on a favorite pattern! It was another occasion when I finally had the courage to cut into a beloved stash fabric, and I was so pleased that I did when the dress was done. Yay!

Alright, guys, I’m really excited to hear about your hits and misses this year. Tell me! What were your biggest triumphs? Worst disappointments? Anyone else have a pattern placement problem that made a garment a bit too anatomically-correct? Do share!

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!