The Resignations Coat

I first cut into the fabric for this coat in June of 2016 and I finally finished it in January this year…it’s called The Resignations Coat and obviously I kind of resigned part way through making it 😉

I did take a long time to finish this coat, picking it up and putting it down multiple times. I found the instructions a little frustrating to follow and had a few hiccups along the way but the real reason it’s called The Resignations Coat is because all the fabric was purchased with vouchers from two different job resignations.

When I resigned from First Job I was delighted to receive a goodbye card with a voucher from Fabrics Direct. At that time the head office had reduced our team to just myself and two guys and, it sounds a bit mean but, I really didn’t expect such a thoughtful gift. Luckily G remembered that time we were walking back to the office after a client meeting when I suddenly yelled, “I’ll catch up!” and literally ran across the road right into Fabrics Direct after seeing the “vintage fabrics” sign outside. Fabrics Direct specialise in curtain and upholstery but occasionally get in fashion fabric including estate sale lots. This voucher + and extra $55 purchased the black wool coating for the outer.

Second Job felt like it lasted 10 years but was really only just over a year and when I resigned I received flowers and a very generous voucher from The Fabric Store. Thank goodness I was good friends with N and she was tasked with my leaving gift. This didn’t really make up for the loss of my soul but I did use it to buy the silk lining (and some other pretties) and that made me very happy.

As a side note I’m pleased to tell you I’ve been in my current job for almost 3 years and I have no intention of leaving for quite some time! In fact, they would have to drag me out the door kicking and screaming…so no more resignation fabric vouchers for me for a while, all future fabric must be purchased with real money 😉

When I bought this pattern I envisioned a well made and long serving coat for the coldest of Wellington winter days. The vouchers allowed me a bit more extravagance with my fabric purchases than usual and a plain black wool meant it would go with anything. However all plain fabric must be kept in balance with a not-so-plain lining fabric, of course. Along with a sensible (outer) fabric choice, bound buttonholes fit the whole concept and would give me that next level finish. This was to be the coat to end all coats and when I wore it I would be toasty warm from the weather and from good career decision making!

I cut everything out and applied my interfacing (which took forever, but I was lucky to get it all done before my ElnaPress bit the dust. Spoiler alert: I bought another one. I couldn’t live without it) and then I purchased all the other notions (shoulder pads, sleeve heads and zippers) but got stumped finding buttons. I normally leave buttons until last but this time around I needed the buttons early for the bound button holes. So I lost my momentum and put it all away until the following winter.

I finally found my buttons at Made Marion Craft here in Wellington and so I picked everything back up late into Winter 2017. I pushed through to get the next most time consuming parts out of the way: pleating the side panels in both the shell and lining and creating the bound buttonholes.

This is when I discovered my zippers didn’t match my buttons…doh!

I couldn’t find any locally so I ended up buying them off an Australian supplier on Etsy. They took forever to arrive thanks to Australia and New Zealand Post, who I shall award joint first place in Who Can Be the Most Terrible Postal Service Awards.

I had to buy them longer than I needed but they were easy to shorten and if you’d like to see how I did that you can check out the tutorial I wrote over on the Singer New Zealand blog.

Inserting the zippers into the sleeves was fiddly but not as difficult as I thought.

Everything else went together pretty smoothly until I got to the sleeves and one of them just wouldn’t behave and set in smoothly. I unpicked and restitiched that sleeve four times and it spent a considerable amount of time in the naughty corner.

Attaching the buttons also tripped me up. After I stitched them on and did the coat up I had all this weird bubbling between them. After I realised it was due to the thickness of the bound buttonholes I pulled them off and reattached adding a thread shank and that did the trick!

Hand sewing the hem was the easiest part of this make. The thick wool and interfacing made it easy to hem the wool outer and then I attached the silk to the wool using tiny, neatly spaced fell stitch and you can hardly see it.

Despite dragging my sewing heels I am truly happy with the final coat. I took the photos for this post in January but I didn’t get to wear my coat properly until recently. Last week we had our first cold snap leading up to winter and I wore it every day to work.

In my photos I felt like I didn’t quite know what to do with the collar. I don’t like it buttoned all the way up and it feels weird folded over but since wearing it I just leave the top button undone and the collar just does what it wants, sitting up around my face and making little wind break.

I’ve worn it so often now that I’m paranoid about losing one of the buttons and realised I never bought any spares! So, back to Made Marion Craft for me this week to grab a couple of extras just in case…

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Pauline Alice Quart Coat, size 40.

Lengthened sleeves by 2cm.

Fabric – 

  • 3.0 meters of 148cm wide  100% Black Wool Coating from Fabrics Direct (used approx 2.2 meters), $35/m, purchased with $50.00 gift voucher from First Job, total paid cash $55.00, purchased 17 August 2015
  • 2.6 meters of 100% Silk from The Fabric Store Wellington, $28.00/m less 20% discount, purchased with other items using gift voucher from Second Job, total paid cash $0.00, purchased 07 September 2015

Other notions – Buttons from Made Marion Craft, zippers from Who Says Sew, shoulder pads, sleeve heads and interfacing from Hawes & Freer

More Info – 

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99 Hot Air Balloons

I recently completed my first Singer Australia/New Zealand Blog post – I’d love it if you popped over and read that post here, maybe leave a comment 🙂

You might remember seeing me cut this dress out when I reviewed my new Singer scissors.

I’m sharing it here too (because blog) but in the interests of not repeating myself entirely and this being my first Pauline Alice make I thought I’d make this post more of a pattern review.

The Cami Dress has a fitted bodice with front and back waist darts, a classic shirt collar and buttons on the front from the waist up. The high-waisted full skirt is gathered and has inseam pockets and a side zipper (“for comfort”?).

My pattern was bought some time ago and I noticed that the line art on the front page of the instructions pdf incorrectly shows a view of the dress with a waistband.

It’s cute with a waistband, so perhaps my next version will have one…

I bought my pattern as a pdf and the nice thing about this particular pdf pattern is that you only have to print and assemble the bodice, sleeves and collar. The skirt is a simple drindle rectangle gathered to the width of the bodice. The dimensions for this are given in the instructions for the overall size and where to place the notches for the CF, pockets and zipper placement.

It’s great that we don’t have to waste a heap of paper printing a simple rectangle (Burda I’m looking at you!) and, although it’s a simple thing, I appreciate that I can be trusted with some measurements and then left to get on with it.

Instructions are given for both regular and invisible zipper insertion. I made version A with the short sleeves and I used an invisible zipper.

I was expecting the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me and I always need a bit more over my bottom. To get the longest possible skirt out of my fabric I cut out all my patterned pieces first and then I divided the left over fabric length in half. This was 140cm so I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. When I hemmed the dress I cut off 9cm so next time I know I’ll need to cut the skirt rectangle 61cm long.

In general the instructions are quite thorough with good diagrams except for when we get to the collar where they become confused and a little convoluted while including the dubious suggestion to clip all the way around the neckline.

It had been a while since I’d sewn this type of collar so I decided to ignore the instructions and consulted my Reader Digest Complete Book of Sewing instead. It’s not the first time I’ve resorted to this page while sewing a collar using Indie pattern directions…

If you’re looking for a general sewing book to supplement your sewing knowledge this is my number one recommendation. I bought my older copy second-hand but you can also still buy this book brand new, it’s all the same great content in a new dust jacket.

There is also some confusion around button placement. One image shows the buttons on the left, then later they are shown on the right. Even the finished garment photos on the website show dresses with buttons on differing sides.

I’ve accidentally sewn buttons on to the “wrong” side of a blouse before and my brain did not like it. So I made sure to place mine on the traditional side and while it might not matter to some once the buttons are done up I find this dress tricky to get on and off unless I undo the buttons as well as the zipper.

Speaking of buttons, mine are abalone with a brass surround and I think they were a Fabric-a-Brac find. I’ve been dying to use these so I’m very happy that they suit this fabric. I tried out several top-stitching colours (yellow, dark green, coral and orange) before I settled on the light green.

This dress was stitched 95% on my 1946 Singer 99k – the remaining 5% is these buttons and their respective button holes.

I couldn’t get my vintage button-hole attachment to work correctly so I used my modern Elna instead and while I was at it I stitched the buttons on too because I hate hand stitching and I’ve not lost a machine stitched button yet.

So that’s it!

I really like my finished dress, there are a few modifications I would make if I did sew it again (the pockets feel a tad low, it’s a bit tight across the ladies), but I wore it to work last week with a belt and got several unsolicited compliments. Yay.

Contrast pockets!

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Pauline Alice Cami Dress, size 42 graded to 44 at the waist.

Fabric – Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

Next time I will lengthen the bodice by 2 – 3cms, do an FBA, insert the pockets a little higher and make them slightly deeper. The skirt needs to be cut 61cm in length.

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Shiny sharp scissors, snick, snick, snick! (and a giveaway)

I’m excited to share with you guys that I am going to be working with Singer Sewing Company, blogging on their Australian/New Zealand website.

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I’m being joined by Christina of Little Pickers who is based in Tasmania. We’ll both be blogging about our sewing over on the Singer site with a new post every three months so I hope you’ll pop over and see what we’re up to.

To kick things off here on my blog I’ve got a little goodie to share with you all and two more to give away, one each to a lucky Kiwi and Aussie follower 🙂

New scissors!

Singer scissors (of course!) in a beautiful heritage tin.

We’ll get to the scissors in a moment because initially I was more excited about the tin! It came protected in a cardboard sleeve and it matches all my vintage Singer accessory boxes 🙂

Squee! Clever packaging makes me super happy.

But we are here to talk about scissors. Here is my current fabric cutting arsenal, it consists of a pair of Mundial scissors and a 28mm rotary cutter which I use with pattern weights and various rulers.

Rotary cutting is a fairly new revelation for me. I use it for all the naughty fabrics. You know the ones. They’re slinky and/or stretchy and just looking a them moves them off-grain. Rotary cutters on a big cutting mat are perfect for zipping around naughty fabrics without disturbing them.

For fabrics that behave, stable ones such as cotton, I still prefer the satisfying snick snick of a nice heavy pair of sharp, all-metal scissors.

The Singer scissors are similar in size to my Mundials with nice sharp tips and maybe the teensiest bit heavier. I like the weight, I think it gives you more control.

So to give these shiny new scissors a thorough review I used them to cut out the project that I’ll be sewing up for my first Singer blog post – it’s the Pauline Alice Cami Dress in the Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons that I mentioned in my last post.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to make scissor action shots sexy but I set up my tripod and got to work.

The dress pattern includes only the bodice, collar and sleeve pieces. The skirt piece is drafted from the instructions. It’s basically a drindl, a rectangle that you gather to fit the bodice width. There are measurements included in the instructions including where to place your notches for center front, zipper and pocket placement.

I actually really like that there isn’t a huge waste of paper just for a rectangle. It also makes me feel like Pauline Alice takes me seriously as a home sewist. I can work out a little bit of maths (or in this case, follow simple directions) and mark straight onto my fabric.

I think the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me plus I always need a bit more over my bottom so I pinned all my pieces in place and then just divided my left over fabric length in half. I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. After I hem this dress I’ll make a note of how tall my rectangles need to be for next time.Cutting out is one of the sewing tasks I find most tiresome. That’s why I usually cut out 3 or 4 projects in one go but only having to cut out the bodice pieces and with shiny new scissors made this feel really quick.

As you would expect, the scissors were super sharp and made that satisfying snick snick I love. My only complaint would be that they were a little stiff at first but I cut out two more projects after this and they have loosened up.

They are a great pair of scissors and if you’re looking for a decent pair for your fabric cutting needs I highly recommend them. Good quality sewing scissors are an investment and if you look after them (read: they don’t go near a piece of paper. Ever.) all-metal scissors last practically forever.

Oh hey, do you need some new scissors? 😉 Would you like to win your own pair of sharp and shiny Singer scissors?

Yeah you would…so here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Share a photo of yourself using your sad sewing scissors on Instagram – maybe they are blunt, maybe they are cheap, or maybe they don’t exist at all!
  • Hashtag #ineedsingerscissors and tell us in a few words why you need your own pair of Singer sewing scissors
  • Tag @thecuriouskiwi and @singer_sewing_aus_nz
  • Don’t forget to mention where you live (Australia/New Zealand)

You have until 4th July then we’ll pick one Kiwi and one Aussie to win their own pair and then we can snick snick away together and sew. All. The. Things.

Sorry this competition is only open to New Zealand and Australian readers.

Happy cutting

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* I was given the set of Singer Dressmaking Scissors you see me using in this post to review as part of my work with Singer Sewing Company Australia New Zealand. All opinions expressed is this post are honest and my own. I freely chose to review this product because I genuinely believe it is a good product, I enjoyed using it and will continue to use it in the future.