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Miss Fisher coat – complete!

November 12, 2015

otto 5_07_20_frontSide note – there is a planning post on this project here with photos of the inspiration coat.

This was a super fun project. I enjoyed sleuthing out the details to make a semi-faithful knockoff, enjoyed sewing, and will get plenty of wear out of this coat.

After waffling between the Ottobre pattern (# 20 from the 5/2007 issue, “Raglan-sleeve trenchcoat”) and some possible candidates from old Burda magazines, I decided to go with Otto. It has an a-line cut, while the Burdas were either straight up and down or extremely swingy. Besides that, I am just going through a period of Otto love and wanted to use theirs.
Modifications: Converted to single breasted, added length, eliminated their sleeve ties and carriers and substituted tabs, and rounded the collar points to imitate the inspiration coat. Eliminated the back facing. Shortened the sleeves a little bit, too. Otto sleeves are always too long on me. I did not do a forward shoulder alteration; maybe a small one would have been in order.

The fabric was a Kaufman linen/cotton blend from stash. I thought I’d be able to order more (the pattern is for a shorter coat) in order to not worry about getting the length I wanted, but the source was sold out. With some thoughtful single layer cutting, I was able to get the whole coat out of the original piece! I was really pleased, because even though my fabric is a little heavier than Miss Fisher’s actual coat, I really wanted the weight and drape of this particular material.

otto 5_07_20_backBack view – the back is plain except for a center back seam.

All the seams were flat-felled, so the inside of the coat is clean finished. For the facings and hems, I thought about finishing with bias strips from lining fabric, but remembered I wanted to try the “Hug Snug” rayon seam binding that Wawak carries. I liked the Hug Snug very well. It molded itself around the facing curves nicely, and the shiny contrast to the linen makes it look a little bit like piping.IMG_6780

The coat was sewed on the trusty old Singer 66 with buttonholes courtesy of an old style buttonhole attachment on this rotary Kenmore machine. I was surprised at how easy the attachment was to use, and am glad that the unreliable computerized machine that I was keeping around for buttonholes can finally be retired. Now I’m on the lookout for more buttonhole templates, if they exist. This particular kit was complete, but only contained 5.


kenny buttonholer

I like the coat and don’t have any cautions to pass on. I made my usual combination of Otto sizes, and the coat is plenty roomy to go over sweaters and other layers. I have lost some weight, but feel like the coat would still be big enough for layers even if I hadn’t.

otto 2007_05_20

This coat is item #1 in my 2016 SWAP. There are a few made-before-the-deadline pieces allowed in this year’s rules. This will probably be the only one for me. Because I had so much fun copying this piece and the Eileen Fisher tunic earlier this year, my SWAP will feature knock offs. This will be my first SWAP in years, and I am really looking forward to it!

fall 6-pac

October 13, 2015

The extra material for the Miss Fisher coat is on the way and should be here later this week. took their time getting it in the mail, but shipping is free so I am not complaining.

ejvc hosts seasonal sewalongs on Stitcher’s Guild that are built around 6 coordinating garments. There are always some resulting collections that are really inspiring. The threads are great sources of ideas for both simple and challenging projects, and usually also have lots of discussion of color, as well.

I bought a couple pairs of leggings for fall, something I never thought I would do. Because of that, I really did need to make some tops to wear with them. No short tops with leggings!  2 pairs of leggings (one black, one navy), one purchased gray top, and the three sewn pieces below make up my “cheater” 6 pac.

OTTO 5_15_17This Ottobre top was written up a couple of posts back. The more I think about it, the less I like the high/low hemline. I won’t do that again. But I like the fit of the rest of the top with the slouchy extended shoulders. Good for casual and relaxed wear. This is #17 from the 5/2015 issue of Ottobre.

Burda 5_11_131The silk tunic was adapted from Burda Style 5/2011 #131. I chose it because it has both front and back gathered into the yoke, and bust darts in addition to the gathers. This particular pattern also fit me well in the shoulders and has an armscye and sleeve that I like. I added extra width to both the front and back because I was afraid that without the extra it might look skimpy in the lightweight silk. Maybe I overcompensated? It does feel very lovely and swirly to wear, and probably looks a little more body conscious in motion than in a still photo.

OTTO 5_15_4One of the features of the 6-pac is the suggestion to include a jacket. I went with a long cardigan. This is also from the 5/2015 Ottobre, #4. There are two versions of the cardigan in the magazine. One has a curled raw edge on the front band, the other is pieced of different colors and has a hood. I made the pieced version and went to the trouble of topstitching the seam allowances down on either side of each seam in an attempt to emphasize the piecing. This was mostly wasted effort! With the texture of my fabric, the topstitching doesn’t show unless you look very closely.

I wanted a really drapey cardigan and that’s what I got. The fabric was described as a rayon sweatshirt knit. The textured side has silky short fleece-like fibers, kind of hard to describe. Ottobre called for merino wool, and I think on the whole a more stable fabric, like a medium weight wool knit or real sweatshirt knit, might have been a better choice. Especially if you plan to put in the pockets as designed. I interfaced the heck out of my pocket openings, but they are still droopy, so they are going to be sewn up.

2015 Fall 6 pacLastly, here’s the whole shebang. The purchased tunic is the last on the right…and I only photographed with the navy leggings. If I were sewing this over again there are a few things I would do differently, but that’s always the way it is. I’m satisfied with my little 6-pac and will wear all of these items a lot this fall and winter.

plans for another knock off

October 6, 2015

There are no completed projects to show here this time. My half-purchased half-sewn 6pak is complete, and I will take some photos to share in the next post. This one is being put up to host some photo inspiration for an upcoming project.

One of the members on Pattern Review, PammyJ, started a thread on a linen coat worn by Essie Davis in the Miss Fisher murder series. I vaguely remembered a duster type coat that she had worn motoring and flying an aeroplane (a little period spelling here), but couldn’t recall any details. However, the next episode up for viewing on my TV featured the coat, and then I wanted one, too.

Here are some decent photos of the coat gleaned from the official Phryne Fisher Pinterest page.

obscured by lovely scarf

with yet another lovely scarf

with lovely scarf number three

So many lovely scarves hiding the details I need to see to make this coat!

However, from watching episode in my queue (no scarves) I could see the following: below knee length, unlined, single breasted, buttoned sleeve tabs, raglan sleeves, flapped pockets, slightly rounded collar, center back seam. PammyJ thought there were bellows pockets, but on second viewing it looks to me like they are just patch pockets with flaps.

Here are a few more poor quality photos that I snapped off the TV.

Fisher coat 1 Fisher coat 2

I also found a pattern to use for my copy in an old Ottobre Woman. This is #20 from the 5/2007 issue. This should be pretty simple to adapt.

otto 2007_05_20

I had a piece of cotton/linen blend that has the right weight and drape, but not enough to make the duster length of the original. Luckily, still has some and a few more yards are on their way to me now.

In my research, I read that the costume designer for the show intended this coat as an homage to classic detectives. Phryne Fisher and Sam Spade all wrapped up in one coat! I’m pretty excited to get started on this soon.

Ottobre “colorful concrete”

August 31, 2015

The newest edition of Ottobre Woman is even heavier on the knit designs than usual, but that actually fit right in with what I need.  Leggings are soon comfortable that I decided I would start wearing them. That means I need some long tops to wear with them. This style, #7 from the 5/2015 issue, looked like a good option. It is a flared hem tunic with very dropped shoulders.

A nice beefy rayon/Lycra knit in a tie dye print seemed to echo the spirit of the colorful print they showed in the magazine. My knit came from and it is nicer than I expected.

imageThis is easy sewing with only 3 main pieces and a flat sleeve head. I did a forward shoulder adjustment, widened at the hip, and shortened the back by an inch and a half. The high/low effect is still a little more extreme than I like, so if I make this again I would also lengthen the front. And shorten the sleeves.

There are center front and center back seams which are supposed to be accented with a cover stitch. Since I don’t have a cover stitch machine, I used the feather stitch on my regular machine. Some tearaway stabilizer kept those stitches nice and flat. I also needed to stabilize the hem for twin needle stitching.


Cooper thinks I should accessorize with a red dog towel.

There is a cute hooded cardigan in this issue that I also got grey fabric to make up. It will go well over this top. Then I think I’ll also make a woven tunic that will coordinate and that will give me a nice little fall grouping.

I hope your summer has been long and relaxing! I’m all ready for fall activities to begin, although cooler temperatures are still at least a month off.

little white shirt

May 4, 2015

There aren’t many white shirts in the closet because of the way they attract splotches of tomato sauce and red wine. But I do like a white shirt and wanted one to go with the black and white crosswoven linen pants I recently made.

This is the Ottobre Woman Triangle shirt, #9 from the Spring 2013 issue, without the color blocked triangle.

I started with a fresh tracing upon which to work my alterations: small FBA, lowered the bust point, forward shoulder, sway back. Next time I could raise the bust point just a smidge, and increase the sway back a little, if there is a next time. I like the little cut on cap sleeves, but they might not be around much longer.

Here’s a photo on the dummy, which really doesn’t even work well to hang clothes on for photos anymore. The dummy is over 10 years old and there is no amount of dial-twisting that is going to make it resemble me. It would be nice to have one based on a body cast so that I could actually fit on it. However, those are $$ and would probably only be good for a few years, since  my body is going to continue to change. If anyone has solutions that worked for them, I’d love to hear what you did!


And here it is on me. It could have been fitted a little more closely, but loose is better in the summer.

Otto_Triangle2I’ve already printed out and pieced together the PDF for my first try with Lekala patterns. Lekala produces the patterns based on your measurements, not by a selected size. There are also opportunities to input a little more info, like whether your shoulders are broad or narrow, the length of your arms, etc. It will likely take a little back and forth to get my fit mapped out, but there are several free patterns that you can order multiple times to work out those issues.

Link to the free patterns: Lekala

EF Knockoff completed

March 5, 2015

The shirt I was planning in the last blog post has actually been finished quite awhile – has been laundered twice. But in all that time there has not been a nice sunny day when I could take photos. Today there are a few fresh inches of snow, but the sun is shining brightly. At last!

Here is the glamour shot…

EF Knockoff2

You can see the sunbeam. Oh, joy!

The base pattern for this shirt was Ottobre Woman’s 5/2014 issue, style #18. It’s an oversized shirt pattern. My previous post describes the changes I made to emulate the Eileen Fisher original.

Since the topstitching thread matches the fabric, here are a few details to show that the shirt is not quite as plain looking as it appears.

EF Knockoff3

Showing the side vent, stitching at the base of the placket, and the hanging loop on the back yoke.

And here is a photo of me wearing it, sleeves rolled up one time.

EF Knockoff1Critique: Looks like I could use an FBA and will make that change when I use this pattern again. I purposely made my shirt shorter than the inspiration shirt, because the first time I made this pattern (original length) the proportions of the very long shirt just didn’t seem right at all. However, I didn’t pretreat my fabric vigorously enough, and it has shrunk a little from my intended length. Also looks to me like I should rotate the sleeve a little towards the front.

The Ottobre pattern is a good basic to work with for an extended shoulder, loose-fitting shirt. I’ll make my fitting changes to the tissue, because it is sure to get used again.

I’ve never done a knockoff before, so this was a different approach for me. Fun!

EF knockoff

February 12, 2015

A nice Fabricmart chambray inspired my very first knockoff. I’ve swiped plenty of details in the past, but never started a project with the idea of making a copy.

A while ago, I made a classic chambray shirt with black/white woven fabric. This yardage was similar but blue, so I wanted the style to be a little different. Did some googling and found an Eileen Fisher shirt that is just my style. Here’s a link to the original: Eileen Fisher chambray tunic

My fabric is almost a dead ringer for the one used by EF, except theirs is a cotton/hemp blend, I think, and mine is all cotton.

The starting point is a shirt from the 5/2014 Ottobre Woman magazine. It’s #18, called “Autumn Palette”. It’s an oversized shirt with the back gathered into a yoke. I chose it because the fit and slightly dropped shoulder/sleeve combo match the original.

Otto 5_2014_18

Step one was making another tracing of the pattern that could be sliced and diced into the EF style. When you’re making changes like this, it really is easier not to have seam allowances to work around.

Here are the details I wanted to capture.


I guestimated that the waistline seam on the EF shirt was below waist level, so I cut the pattern front horizontally at the same level. The original pattern front has cut-on CF bands. I kept those for the upper front but trimmed them off at the center front for the lower “apron” portion, which gets cut on the fold of the fabric.


The back of the inspiration shirt has a really deep yoke with a little hanging loop. Ottobre has shaping built into the yoke seam (which might not be the case with the EF shirt, but I decided to keep the shaping), so to lengthen I added inches to the bottom of the yoke and removed them from the top of the back. Then I referred back to the original pattern to true up the back armscye shaping.


Added some extra on the pattern tissue for the turn-back at the hem vents.

Lastly came the neckline, the only really persnickity part. You can see that the neckline is slightly scooped in the front and on the shoulders, too. The pattern comes all the way up to the neck, where the neckband would attach. I drew a new neckline on the front and back pieces to reflect where the upper edge should be on the finished garment. Center back stayed at it’s original position; I didn’t want the back neckline to dip. Trimmed off that excess.

Then, it looked like the neckband on the inspiration shirt was 1 1/4 inches wide. Measuring from my new neckline, I marked all around the neck 1 1/4 inches, front and back. Cut off the bands and taped them together at the shoulder so the fabric will be all one piece (with the center back on the fold). Last step: round off the edges at the center front like the inspiration shirt.

EF’s shirt has cuffs and little tabs and buttons on the sleeve to secure them when rolled up. I decided to leave off the cuffs and button/tab arrangement. I left the sleeves with a plain hem and will roll them up without the help of sleeve suspenders. This meant lengthening the sleeve pattern to compensate for leaving off the cuff.

In cutting out, I laid out the pattern pieces and then marked the seam allowances with a sliver of soap. I really do prefer to keep my patterns without seam allowances. That’s because I do mostly TNT type sewing.

I’m about halfway through the sewing at this point and can tell already that the hi/lo effect isn’t as noticeable in my version as EF’s. I’ll critique my knock-off prowess in the next post.


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