I Heart/Hate Dressmaking

I love the whole process of dressmaking but sometimes I despair at the struggles I have with the fitting process. When I read other sewists blogs they seem to doing just a tweak here and there, most never even make a toile! So, whilst I know there are going to be some regular changes I need to make to commercial patterns I am still experiencing issues I’ve never encountered before as I try new garment types and styles. Just once it would be nice if the fitting process didn’t create SO much work.

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This was not to be one of those times…

So my latest punishment was Vogue V9136. I’ve been wanting to make a coat for a while now but was a bit scared – Vogue promised a “very easy” coat pattern so I couldn’t refuse, particularly as I already had some lovely coral wool mix in my fabric stash.

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This unlined loose fitting coat pattern was indeed very easy to make but turned out to be waaaay to big in the shoulder area resulting in huge folds of excess fabric.

Try as I might though I just couldn’t work out the best way to remove the excess given the drop shoulder and forward shoulder seams! A LOT of experimentation and multiple toiles later I settled on the approach suggested by A Sewing Life – Altering for a Narrow Chest.

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A couple of pivots later and I had successfully reduced the width of the chest although not to the extent of moving the bust point to, well, the point of my actual bust. That just seemed a physical impossibility!

Once again I was amazed that the adjustment seemed to work! It may not appear so from the photographs but there was significantly less fabric flapping around. As a result of the adjustment I did need to shorten the collar and lengthen the arms but other than that all looked good.

The next ordeal was the fabric itself. It had been carefully rolled up for almost a year and only upon closer inspection could I see a number of small black marks – obviously why it was in the sale!

I decided to take the risk and wash the fabric as I was pretty sure there was zero wool content. When you’re desperate to get cutting it’s so frustrating, especially as I didn’t dare tumble dry so I had to wait overnight for it to dry. A day later, with scissors in hand, I noticed some white patches. Washing powder residue. Arrgghhhh… Another rinse and dry and it was finally ready.

The black marks remained. I was past caring!

So I tried to cut my pattern pieces around these as best I could, thankfully I had bought extra fabric. But not enough to correct my next mistake – I had cut the back yoke upside down so that the nap was pointing upwards. Now, to be fair this didn’t really matter as it was inside the coat but I can’t help being anal – I decided to piece two correctly faced fabric pieces together instead!

Fortunately the worst was now over – the actual sewing bit was easy! I even bound my seams in some Kaffe Fassett fabric I had left over from a quilting project, although in hindsight I should have made wider bias tape and it was a bit tricky to squeeze in those thick seam layers.

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My little old Janome J3-18 coped admirably with the chunky fabric. My only wish was for an automatic buttonhole function. Maybe Father Christmas will bring me a new one….

So, all in all this was an epic make for me in both time and tantrums, but I think it was well worth it, and overall I did enjoy the process (well, the end bit anyway!) Now, I’m off to make something simple, like a tea towel.

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