Sunday, 8 November 2015

winter projects November update: the duffle coat





I am now nearly half way through my duffle coat course and I have still not cut my beautiful Harris Tweed. It has been a rocky road so far. Who would have thought that sewing a duffle coat could reduce me to a sobbing snotty mess? 

Let me summarise my progress:

When we first started, we had to take measurements of our bodies. We did this in pairs for accuracy. From my measurements, it was clear that none of the size options would be particularly good for me. That was a bit of a blow. I have been careful in the past to choose patterns that fit my measurements. 

I watched my teacher Cassandra make mysterious adjustments to my pattern, one of them a full bust adjustment (FBA), explaining it all along, and I felt utterly overwhelmed by it all. I decided to give up before I started properly but didn't. My first toile ended up being almost right around the shoulders, too wide around my trunk and bottom and a little bit too tight around my bust. I don't even want to imagine the fit of an unaltered pattern... I managed to sew in the zipper bands so they didn't overlap but converged in the middle. That was a bit embarrassing. It didn't really matter for the fitting. 

I had to make a second bust adjustment, this time on my own. It took my several hours over two days to admit defeat. I worked my way through a pivot FBA tutorial, and a more simple cut and slide FBA (it is not online). I managed the pivot method ok but ended up with a poncho sized pattern piece that just didn't look right. I know a FBA will add to width but not as much as I ended up with. The other method is simple but I didn't quite get the fact that the photos were a mirror image to my own pattern.... I had another wobbler, deciding to make cushion covers from my tweed and burn the duffle coat pattern in a big fire. I asked Cassandra if I could come in early instead to see where I went wrong. I could. It wasn't actually as bad as I thought and I had nearly got it right. I am fairly confident that I will be ok with future FBAs, of the dart-less variety at least. 

My second toile fitted well around the bust but needed generous taking in around the sides because the FBA added width. The result can be seen on the photo. The hood fits well, too. I have no photo of that. Now I have to ease in the sleeves. I am mildly concerned because some of the other ladies in the class had to make considerable arm adjustments, some of which looked a lot more complicated than the FBA. Our duffle coat has two part sleeves, which may make adjustments more tricky. 

My homework is to ease in the sleeves for fitting, wash my fabrics for cutting and gather all the bits and pieces needed for the real thing.

During an evening in class, we have several tutorials and then get to spend time on our own coats. So far, we learned about different pattern adjustments, different pockets, sewing with leather, different kinds of interfacings, couture and tailoring, pattern matching and more. I have learned so much already, I am really pleased with the course. Cassandra, if you stumble across this blog by accident, I am eternally grateful for your handholding and gentle guidance. I wish I was a bit more like that with my children.

If you live in Glasgow and would like to learn how to make garments or quilts, or would like to challenge yourself and make a pair of jeans, you should definitely consider The Stitchery for a course. If you just want company whilst sewing, there are sewing afternoons once a month, too.

You can find many more winter crafty projects on Jennifer's Winter Project Link Party. Jennifer's own winter project, the Hensfoot blanket, is beautiful! 

Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. I love to hear from you. Have a lovely day. Cxx


30 comments:

  1. My goodness, you're a braver woman than I, I think brain surgery sounds less complicated. It sounds like you'll be picking up lots of useful information on this course which you'll be able to apply to other things you make in the future and of course, at the end of all this you'll have your beautiful Harris Tweed Duffle Coat. Definitely worth all the anguish along the way.

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  2. I took a dressmaking course a few years ago, we had to measure each other in pairs. I was paired with a young woman who was about the width of one of my legs!! I just wanted to give up and go home then and there :(

    I'm really looking forward to seeing your finished coat, it will be very special to know you have made it yourself x

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  3. It is going to be a thing of absolute beauty stick with it lady tears or no tears it is going to be fabulous. Jo x

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  4. I am really looking forward to seeing the coat finished, you material is lovely a great choice :-)

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  5. Christina, I'm very impressed, you're so good at sewing. The description alone made me feel a bit panicky, I'd definitely be sobbing and snotty and burning things. I just know your coat is going to be amazing, how fantastic it will be to have one tailored perfectly for you. Good luck with the fabric washing and the sleeves. I look forward to seeing your progress. The course sounds fantastic. CJ xx

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  6. Bravo, Christina! I too am impressed with your determination and progress. [Over thirty years ago my husband bought me a down jacket kit. It sat in its box...many years... and was finally given away.] You are so wise and clever to take a class and ask for extra help when you need it! The material you have bought is beautiful. I am glad you are participating in the Link Party and I am cheering you on!

    In answer to your question on my post, I am using circular knitting needles for both of the blankets I am knitting. I have only had to rip out rows on the baby blanket so far :) xx

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  7. I am in awe that you are even attempting to make your own duffel coat. I bow down to your sewing prowess and look forward to admiring you in your perfectly fitting coat! xx

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  8. Hey Christina,
    Sweet Jesus!! Please stick with it. Don't burn you pattern, and make cushions with that beautiful fabric. I am cheering you on from the sidelines with my pom poms, and am utterly in awe of your determination and abilities
    Leanne xx

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  9. I can just about remember when my mum, who was an excellent seamstress, did a tailoring course. She used to make the most fabulous trouser suits which were quite avant garde for her job in the 1970s and 80s as a nurse tutor at a London teaching hospital. I have a long length of blue speckled Donegal Tweed from my mum's stash. This week I cut into it to make a cushion for a grotty desk chair in my son's student house. It was such beautiful fabric to cut and sew I may be inspired to make a skirt. I can't wait to see your finished duffel coat. You are taking such care with the fit and your fabric is so gorgeous that 'I'm sure the finished coat will be superb.

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  10. I'm such an impatient sewer I'd have given up at the first hurdle.

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  11. Sometimes sewing can really try your patience and your nerves! I didn't understand half the stuff you wrote about here, so I can only say to keep on going and you'll feel a great sense of accomplishment when you have that finished garment. The tweed looks beautiful, and I can understand your trepidation of cutting into it, but you won't have a coat if you don't make the cuts. Good luck and be brave :)
    Wendy

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  12. I do admire you. This sounds so complicated.

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  13. You're amazing for not giving up, Christina. You'll finish your duffel coat and it will be beautiful and perfect. You can do it, keep going!! X

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  14. Wow. What an incredible challenge. I'd struggle to make a decent tea towel using a sewing machine so I'm breaking out in a cold sweat thinking about making a duffel coat! I really hope you stick with it and pull it off, and wear it to death! It'll be great.

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  15. Gosh, sounds so complicated. A coat , wow I am impressed .I am visiting from the link party. Hello

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  16. Christina, you are very brave for attempting to make your own winter coat. Just keep imagining the end result - you will be so warm and toasty!

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  17. Wow! I am wildly impressed that you are even undertaking such things, let alone doing so well with them!!! Hope that you keep enjoying your sewing and that you will love wearing your finished coat too!! xx

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  18. Ouch! I feel your pain. I would rather emigrate than have my measurements taken in public. Good for you sticking with it, I am sure your duffle will be fab in the end. I am doing a quilting course at the Stitchery justnow, on Monday mornings, and the teacher is Cassandra's mother-in-law! She, too is mega-talented and infinately patient! X

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  19. I am seriously impressed because I know this is beyond the realms of any kind of machine sewing I could ever do. Please hang in there and keep going, you will be so proud of yourself when it's finished. And when people compliment you on your coat, you can say - thank you, I MADE it. xx

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  20. Wow. I am really impressed. I think that I would have given up by now too. I am sure your perseverance will pay off and you will have the most beautiful coat that fits perfectly.

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  21. I could feel every moment of your crafting angst reading through his post, Christina. Isn't it awful when a project becomes so much more complicated than we originally planned? Hang in there!

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  22. Hi Christina, thank you for joining in with my link party! I was truly riveted reading about the process of making your coat. I can feel your frustration and stress but also your determination. This coat is going to be fantastic and you will be SO proud of yourself when you're finished. I think you'll do great.

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  23. Wow! This project has been a wild ride so far. It's a good lesson in sewing AND body love! I am glad you are making "practise" garment first, but I am really ager to see it come together in the REAL fabric soon!

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  24. Hello Christina and thank you so much for popping over to mine and leaving your lovely comment. I'm so looking forward to seeing your finished Duffle Coat.

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  25. Hello Christina and thank you so much for popping over to mine and leaving your lovely comment. I'm so looking forward to seeing your finished Duffle Coat.

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  26. I don't think I would be able to make the adjustments to the pattern. You're very brave. It's looking good so far and I'm sure the finished coat will be stunning.

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  27. Hi Christina, thank you for your visit by me. You did make me very happy. Have a nice day, Jitka

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  28. Wow I am impressed with all your labours. I don't think I would have the patience for such a major project. I bet it will look great when completed and very cosy for your part of the world! B x

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  29. oh my, this sounds so difficult. I'm sticking to sewing quilts. they're flat and don't have to fit anyone x

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  30. I am so impressed with you perseverance I think I would have given up by now. You are doing so well, sounds like a great course.

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx