We Sew Retro

Sunday, 11 November 2012

I'm still here!

I am just letting you know, I am still here.
I have had a hectic few months and had to put the coat and sewing machine to one side.

However....it is nearly done. I spent the last couple of months adding more beading and hand embroidery detail to the back, and today I got rid of the sticky-out bits on the padded lining and sewed the whole thing together.
I now have just a few finishing touches that I am determined to get done this fortnight:
  1.  reinforcing the collar with some hand-stitching (quick job).
  2. adding fur trims to the wrists too (bit labour intensive).
  3. thinning out all the furry hems on the inside (quick job).
  4. sewing the lining and outer layer together down the central seam (quick job).
  5. adding a hook and eye closure on the inside with 2 decorative buttons on the outiside (quick job).
  6. Sewing up the bottom hem which is currently open to allow my adjustments (quick job).
I will add some more piccies but my camera is charging as its batteries only last about 5 mins. So, you see, the only major things I have to do is adding the fur trim to the wrists. As a stroke of good luck, I had to cut back the main fur trim, and the piece left over just so happens to be the perfect fit for the wrist, so technically, one cuff is made, and i can use this to cut the second.

Speak very soon with lots of photos xx

Friday, 6 April 2012

Ninja Busy...


So I admit it's been a while since my last post. I have however been making my coat...slooooowwwly and behind the veil of the blog. I have now completed the lining after buying a walking foot and I'll be honest, it was a mission.

  1. I chose a teal which I personally feels is a good colour combo with any browns. I wanted colour but not so much it would own the coat rather than the coat owning the colour. Is that street lingo? I'm not cool enough to know.
  2. Obviously I used the same pattern as the outer layer which I had adjusted to suit my shortass frame.
  3. Put the darts into the lining only as I could sense the trying to put them into the wadding would result in a great deal of tears and yelling.
  4. My new machine has a better overlocking stitch, so even though I don't yet possess an overlocker I managed to control the fraying before it went mental. Why is it that some fabrics fray if you look at them?
  5. After sewing together in the easy standard way of this pattern I used a the lining as a pattern to cut out the mahoosive wadding. Obviously I have 2 layers of the teal lining too as it would be anoying to get wadding coming through the outer fabric of my coat.
  6. As you can see, cutting huge lengths of fabric is really the only benefit of laminate flooring (laminate will be this generation's Artex). I tacked the wadding between the lining pieces VERY thoroughly as I didn't want any movement at all.
  7. Now this is the devil bit. It was a wee bit of a nightmare to drag the wadded lining back and forth through the machine to get the swirly-whirly effect I was after. And it was exercise. This is why this lining has taken so long really, as I have to keep stopping and starting so I didn't get mad and impatient with it.
  8. Ah, the pelt of some weird animal...I do love my swirls, though it does look very poofy at this stage.
I didn't want to look like a 1920s Dappy from N-Dubz (if you are from another country and don't know who this is, be thankful. Ignorance in this case truly is bliss) NAd as you can see the coat lining does stick out a bit like something created by Issey Miyake. And whilst I find his designs inspiring and innovative, I live in Ramsbottom, where it would look even more quirky than I am comfortable with (and I like a lot of quirk).

After much consideration, googling and questioning of costumier friends, I decided my best bet for relaxing the wadding was the following course of actions:
  • Washing on a cool setting with fabric conditioner and white wine vinegar
  • Ironing it (I did thorough test samples, which I always advise) which flattens the wadding and makes it bend easier
  • Sitting on it, rolling in it etc.
Already I'm seeing some improvements and I'm sure that once I have weighed it down at the back as instructed in the pattern and tamed by the outer fabric, it will be reet.

Next time, the embellishment on the back....

Friday, 13 January 2012


just thought I'd keep you in the know seeing as you've bothered to follow my blog. The coat is still a priority but I need a 'walking foot' for my machine and have to wait till payday till I can buy it (it's nearly sodding £40...£40!?) so the quilted lining will have to wait for the next couple of weeks.

However, I am still completely obsessed with sewing so got distracted on one of the many vintage pattern sites that are in my favourites. I'd seen this pattern a few months ago, and it was still there last week, so I bought it. Unlike the walking foot doodaa, it was only a fiver and that's value for the outfit combos you can get!

Really, I have to admit I can totally see myself in the plaid jacket, shorts, and green tights. The model even has short blonde curly hair. It's clearly meant to be! I thought I could also make up a jacket and skirt for work and hell, may as well make up the trousers while I'm at it!

I'm going to be realistic and actually plan out my sewing for the next year. Coccoon coat first, followed by a couple of retro 60s dresses before summer hits, then in summer I'm going to make up this beaut.

I'm so excited (such a geek)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Step 7: Where's the vac?

Collar drafted, toile tested, fur cut and sewn. Now to just ensure the trim fits right...

1. Don't wear fleecy black leggings when working with fur, or cats.

2. This is the amount of fur crap produced from just 1 seam. Hmm.

3. Vac your legs and all other surfaces regularly. This stuff is like sand or glitter, gets in places you can't imagine.

4. Worth it, look at the lovely finished trimmed seam. I did reinforce the seam with an extra row of stitches on the bottom curve, as this takes a lot of the weight.

5, 6, & 7. Here I pinned the trim to the coat to ensure a good fit. Very happy so far :)

See you soon, when I tackle the padded lining (I think I will invest in a walking foot for this one)

Step 6: Fur, fur, everywhere...

Fur is great isn't it? So soft, and warm and luxurious. It's good that I think that, considering it now covers most of my flat.
So...after drafting my collar/trim, it was time for the real shabang.

1. I didn't think I'd get the right colour of fur, but luckily the shop lighting was wrong, not the colour, so I opted for this long-haired, dark grey & cream, minky faux fur from Abhakans in Manchester. Becuase I had to pay by the kilo and use a nap layout I did have to buy rather a lot, but I have plans for a faux fur pill-box hat and maybe some wrist warmers?

2. I put a single notch at the top/neck side of the pattern, and double notches at the bottom just so I wouldn't get myself confused. I really took my time cutting out the pattern keeping the blade of the scissors as close to the backing as possible so I didn't cut through the actual pile.

3. When pinning the seams together it is vital to put the pins in at 90 degrees to the edge and alternating directions. This avoids the fur moving and sliding around (the fur I was using is especially smooth and silky so this would have happened very easily had I not put the pins in properly).

4. I selected a straight stitch double the length I'd normally use, and really a walking foot would have helped, but I don't have one...yet.

5. After sewing all the seams I turned the fabric around so the right side was facing me, and then used a knitting needle to carefully pull the pile out of the seam. This allows for as smooth a finish as possible.

6. Although it took me a long time, I pulled out all the pile as close to the stitching as possible so as to hide the seams.

7. I then turned the fabric so the wrong side was facing me, and I could clearly see the long pile left in the sewn seam. This needs to be trimmed so the seam lies flat.

8. This picture shows a seam on the wrong side of the fabric, with half of the seam trimmed as close to the backing as possible. Again this is a time-consuming job, but is worth it, as you could cut the stitching or backing if not careful.

Next time...Will Sancho propose, or run away?.....

Step 5: Draft to craft

Right so after putting it off fur (haha) quite a while, I finally started drafting and making my fur collar and trim.
I had to start by drafting as I have never made a coat collar before and obviously wanted the fur around the entire edge of the coat.

The numbers on the descriptions refer to the pictures, starting at top left to top right, then onto the bottom left picture to bottom right.

1. I looked around the net for someone's knowledge, experience, and possibly a free ready made pattern. Sadly I didn't have much joy. I did find a blog where the woman was drafting a simple coat collar and although the style was completely different, her method seemed the best option. So, I pinned lots of squares of paper onto the edge of the coat.

2 & 3 I then taped extra pieces inbetween, where triangular gaps formed on the curves.

4.  I then trimmed down the edges so that the trim was wider at the top and bottom and slimmed into the waist.

5. Et Voila, a paper pattern for the trim.

6. I cut a toile out of muslin, and pinned to the coat to ensure the pattern was ok. However, I noticed a massive amount of spare material left at the bottom. I cut this down on the toile then laid it on the pattern and adjusted the paper pattern.

7 & 8. I am happy at this point that the collar stands up to a dramatic but not over-the-top or impractical height. Just snuggy enough in the winter ;)

See you soon for the next exciting episode (it is for me anyway, I'm a proud geek).

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Christmas Deviation

Festive Salutations my crafty Friends!!
I love Christmas...little disappointed we aren't having the kind of snow we had last year, after we've moved to pretty Ramsbottom, but there's still hope.
Anyway, I decided to make my own wreath out of random bits I had lying around:

I was going to add more little bits but it would never have made it onto the front door, as I've also given myself the task of printing my own wrapping paper and making my own cards. I used an embroidery hoop and scraps of fabric as well as ribbons, buttons, and feathers. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with it, and I can always add/adjust it next year if I want to (although Mr Kayaking Bear is staying put).

Have a lovely Crimbo my deers,
Helen xxx