Miss Fisher coat – complete!

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!


plans for another knock off

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, fabric.com 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.

SAM #7 and other things

Shirt #7, with no sleeves or associated cuffs and plackets, was a much quicker sew and also just right for hot summer weather. This is that Ottobre shirt from the 02-06 issue, this time in the #4 incarnation, which is sleeveless.

The fabric is a Liberty lawn. This pattern is called “Pepper”, and is probably the ittiest, bittiest  print they make. Since the fabric was so nice, I wanted to be sure to make something classic. I also took care to sew the narrowest french seams I could, and the bias binding for the armholes was also the very skinniest I could manage. I also wanted to use my old-time Singer buttonholer to make the best possible buttonholes, but could not get it to work with this lightweight fabric. When I slipped something stouter under the foot, it worked fine. I did mess with the foot pressure and tension, but to no avail. Does anyone have any suggestions for the future? So the buttonholes were done on the Janome, which makes pretty darn nice ones, just not with as many variations as the  cams in the Singer attachment allow.

Made a few more tweaks with dart placement and think the tweaking of this pattern is finally finished. One thing I’ve noted with Ottobre patterns is that the bust point is much closer to the side than mine. So the vertical darts were moved toward the center; the horizontal dart was adjusted just a bit, too.

If I ever buy another dressform, I’ll get one with a cotton cover. This one has some kind of grabby velour on it that makes it so hard to take a nice photo. Everything clings everywhere.

The shirt is part of my summer 6-pack, and there are pants to go with it. These are the pants in the same Ottobre issue as the shirt, 02-06. Photographing pants is always a problem for me. Here’s a fuzzy mirror shot that at least shows the two pieces together. I modified the pants by replacing the slash pockets (don’t like the gaping) with pockets with a horizontal opening. Which doesn’t show, because I don’t tuck my tops.

When the last Ottobre Woman issue came, I really wanted to make style #10, the cute crossover top. Ordered the perfect striped knit to make it from, and got the thing nearly completed. Unfortunately, my usual Ottobre size was too small! Not only that, but it was too short! I was really put out, because the back waist length on Ottobre has always been just right in my usual size. I may still try the crossover top again.

That effort left me with some good-size scraps. The navy and chartreuse stripe was all peppy and energizing, so I really wanted to use it. There was just barely enough to squeeze out the Linnea top, from Ottobre 02-10, style #1. This is such a simple pattern, and I’ve wanted to try it for quite awhile, but didn’t have appropriate material. That lightweight rayon knit was just perfect. It went together in about 2 hours (probably faster for you if you have more facility with knits) and gave me no headaches! Changes from the pattern: bound the armholes instead of the turn and stitch finish in the instructions. For the hem, I decided to cut a band and serge it to the bottom. I wasn’t sure I could sew a twin-needle hem very well on such a light-weight knit. I love wearing this simple top with its easy neckline, and want to find some other knits that work for it.

Whether you’re sewing or not, I hope you’re having the summer you want!

fancy schmancy

Firstly, it’s been a surprise that several people have subscribed to this blog lately! Thank you! Since this is mainly a personal sewing journal, it’s really gratifying that anyone finds it interesting enough to follow. I’m glad to have you here…and knowing that you’re reading will prod me to up my posting game. Now, on to the topic at hand.

Sometimes you have a need for dress-up clothes. Gala evenings are not part of my life, nor is the nightclub scene, but there are concerts and holiday evenings where a little bling adds to the festivity. An outfit with something sparkly, that can still be worn comfortably and somewhat casually is a nice wardrobe addition.

 In making an outfit for those occasions, I used two treasured pieces of stash – heavy, drapey 4-ply silk for a pair of CLD one-seam pants; and the beaded silk chiffon I got from Britex that I wrote about here.

 There’s not too much to write about the pants. The pattern is a re-issue of Cutting Line Designs very popular One-Seam pant. The pattern is basically the same, with instructions for a closer fit if desired , optional darts , and new pocket and tab details which I haven’t tried yet.

 There is a straight leg version and tapered in the envelope. For evening pants, the fuller straight leg seemed like the way to go. The idea was that I would make fitted tops to wear with them. To make these up, I followed the step-by-step fitting instructions in the pattern, using the darts and removing a little width. They are still loose, all the better for sitting through concerts in comfort. If I succeed in loosing some weight, I’ll take them in by adding a side seam straight up the grainline.

 The sleeveless shell top took much more time than you would think, given the simplicity of the pattern. This is the closest to couture sewing that I have ever done, and there was heaps of basting, thread tracing, removing basting, and hand stitching. Very little machine sewing. Special thread was bought for this project – japanese cotton basting thread, and silk thread for the hand sewing. I got those goodies at Shibori Dragon.

 The pattern was in the fall/winter Ottobre 2009. Ottobre fits me pretty darn well and I have been very happy with the nice drafting and basic styles they offer. Two muslins were made: the first one to make fitting adjustments and the second one just to be sure that the adjustments were right. Adjustments: lowered the bust point a tiny bit; took a small gaposis pinch at the front armscye and rotated that into the bust dart; also took a very, very small pinch in the neckline so it would snug up; and adjusted the side seams to add width at the hip. That neckline pinch was so small it didn’t get rotated into anything.

 I didn’t photograph all the construction steps, but here they are for any interested parties. Thanks to the members at Stitcher’s Guild for coaching in how to handle the project!

Step one was to baste the beaded chiffon to a silk underlining. Baste, baste, baste, all over the areas where the pattern pieces would lie. There was only ¾ of a yard of that chiffon because it was expensive. The pattern just fit with single layer cutting. Facings were cut from the underlining fabric and a fusible interfacing was applied. I used Pam Erny’s xxx.

 Step two: Lay the pattern on the fabrics and thread trace all edges and darts (did not add seam allowances to the pattern to make this part easy).

 Step three: Cut out, adding seam allowances. Crush the beads in the seam allowances, hem, and darts.

 Step four was the actual construction. All seams were hand basted before stitching. Seam allowances and hems were overcast and tacked to the underlining by hand. Facings were understitched by hand and tacked to the underlining, too. Underlinings are wonderful and I’m going to use them more. Hand picked zipper – my first; I did what I could to make it perfect, including measuring my stitches with tiger tape; but it’s still a good thing that textured fabric hides a lot. To finish up, there was a lot of basting to pick out.

 Whew! As I kept telling myself, “If you’re going to buy those fancy fabrics, you have to do what it takes to make them up.” I’m glad to have had the experience, and am really happy to have fitted the shell. It’s another good classic to have as a TNT.

So here it is on me in a bad photo, and you can see a little of the pants. Hard to photograph black, and it does sparkle which isn’t showing up in the photo either. When I wear this in real life, it will be with a wrap of some sort.

This outfit gets its debut at cocktail hour next week – at the PatternReview anniversary get-together in Austin! I’m looking forward to meeting lots of sewing enthusiasts there!

JAM #10

Ottobre Woman 2/2006 #17

The Ottobre jacket is completed, and a very nice jacket it is. I wrote a bit about it while it was in progress a couple of posts back, when the body was completed but I had yet to do the sleeves. At that point, I was so happy with the fit of the jacket that I knew I didn’t want it to be a throw-away muslin. I wanted it to be wearable. But setting in the sleeves was a concern because this fabric (the iron/cotton blend that got an extended Coke soak) was not going to ease.

Here is where the story gets really happy, because the sleeves didn’t NEED to ease. They fit right in, no muss no fuss. That was such a relief. All that remained was to sew on the facings, insert the shoulder pads, turn up hems and topstitch.

A bonus now that this jacket is all together and I like it and its nice easy fit – this same pattern has four different looks in the same magazine, mostly due to pocket stylings. It’s all ready for me to do some changeups…and one of them should be for the fall 6PAK which I am so behind on.

A slight design change – when I’m doing an unlined jacket, I usually redraft the facings so that they extend all the way to the armseye, as shown in the photo. This accomplishes several things: facings don’t flip out, it gives the shoulder and upper chest a little extra oomph, and conceals shoulder pads so they don’t need covering.

I’m glad I finally made this jacket up. Another TNT in a classic style, and this one will also give me a great set of measurements to use in refining other jackets. I’ve really liked the Nancy Ericson 1945 jacket, and have made it several times, but the shoulder was always too broad and I didn’t have the confidence to just whack it down. This Ottobre will be a good pattern benchmark for comparison.

Nice things about the Ottobre jacket:

  1. Did not need extensive alterations for me. When extensive pattern surgery is required, I’m always afraid I’m doing more harm than good. Alterations for this jacket: cut one size smaller at the shoulder, and then shaved off another quarter inch; sewed the vertical darts about 1/8 inch narrower than marked, just for insurance. That’s it.
  2. I like the way the pieces for the two-piece sleeve work. Many two-piece sleeves have the underarm seam meet the side seam – extra bulk and you have to take care to match the seams. This sleeve is cut so that there is no seam where it meets the side seam of the body. Less bulk and easier to sew that way.
  3. Plenty of “driving room” across the shoulders & back. Don’t know why, but this is often a problem with other patterns.
  4. Lots of fitting opportunities with the darts, and one could always leave some of them out for a boxier fit. Stitching the darts just a bit looser like I did makes for a nice shape: trim but relaxed.

Things I’ll change for next time:

  1. Needs a forward shoulder adjustment of about ½ inch.
  2. Cut deeper hems. Ottobre included hem allowances, but they seem skimpy to me. An extra half inch would do.
  3. Next time I’ll draft the lining. Ottobre intended it to be lined, but this was a trial garment and will be worn as a substitute for a jean jacket so I skipped it.

Things to just be aware of:

  1. The armseye is very high. Works great with a tank or sleeveless shell underneath, or could be worn buttoned up with just a cami, but anything with sleeves might choke up.
  2. Sleeve width is OK to accommodate a lightweight blouse, but anything heavier will require an adjustment. If you have slender upper arms this won’t apply to you.

 My TNT basic T shirt is Ottobre. My TNT basic blouse is Ottobre. Now this basic jacket is a winner. Ottobre pants take more fitting work for this body, but I have had success with them, too. The latest issue has some styles that I probably won’t adopt fully, but when you know something is going to basically fit, it’s no big deal to do a little adapting.

A nice surprise for me….one day I came home to holes in the sewing room ceiling with little wires sticking out, courtesy of The Spouse. The little wires were to be connected to several banks of track lights so I will be able to see what I’m working on! In fact, the lights are now totally installed, and when I clean up my space I’ll post pictures so you all can see.  What a difference!

3-Day Coat – day 3

 My three days ended up not being consecutive, due to cedar fever. Sewing when you’re feeling under the weather only leads to mistakes, frustration, and sometimes to assault with scissors. So I finished today instead of Wednesday.

In the end, I took in the side seams a total of 5 inches at the hem, tapering to nothing at the point where the flare begins. My fabric just wasn’t drapey enough to look good with all the volume. It’s still plenty swingy. I also shortened it an inch.

Then there’s the matter of pockets. I like a coat, cardi, or whatever to have pockets, and I played with a test pocket, pinning it at different heights and angles, but decided that a clean line was best.

Other changes: Ottobre only put one snap on their model, and I ended up with 2. Snaps were affixed with embroidery floss. And Ottobre called for velvet ribbon to cover the neckline seam on the inside. I used a silk bias strip from the scrap bin.

I’m usually not a fan of deconstructed-type looks or raw seams, but in this kind of fabric, they look fine to me. The raw edges look minimal and kinda cool.

Cooler weather is here, so timing is good! In a boiled wool, this is a perfect wrap for Texas. It’s cozy, but lightweight enough that it’s not cumbersome.  The fit is easy enough to wear a sweater underneath it when extra warmth is needed.  This will get worn a lot!

3 Day Coat – day 2

 Apologies for the fuzzy photos. It’s late and I want to go to bed!

 I am on schedule with Salma. Tonight I sewed up all the main seams. Actual sewing time was around 3 hours, but I’ve already confessed to being a slow worker.

The one interfaced portion is a little collar stand that is really like a patch sewn on the back of the collar. I thought this could really benefit from some pretty stout stiffening, so I used some recently-acquired hymo canvas, cut on the bias, and that seems to be just right.

I did two rows of stitching on the overlapping seams, which perhaps you can make out in the second bad photo. These are my first raglan sleeves. They are not supposed to be good for triangle figure types, so I’ve always avoided them, but they seem to be OK. Maybe the wide collar counteracts the raglan line?

When I tried this on, the extreme flare below the waist less graceful on me than it appears on the dressform, but there are a few options:

1. Let it sit on the dressform or a hanger for a little while so the seams can relax. It would be great if this was enough!

2. If needed, I can trim the seam allowances to be closer to the stitching, making them a little wimpier. I have only myself to blame for deciding to have two rows of stitching, but some fabric can still be trimmed.

3. Last resort – the seams can be unpicked and some of the flare can be trimmed off.

Tasks for tomorrow — apply bias to cover the seamlines on the inside neck, position and stitch some patch pockets, and sew on snaps.

I should probably not be calling this a coat. It’s really a blanket-like cardigan, but much nicer than a Snuggie! The weight is really perfect for all but the coldest days here.