09 July 2016

Three Days in Vienna

And more trip recap...the next three days were spent in Vienna, Austria.  Unfortunately, I didn't bond to well with Vienna.  The city was nice, but it just didn't capture me the way I thought it would.  It is much larger than Munich and less walk-able.  Though we did walk a great deal, we mostly used the hop-on, hop-off feature of the Big Bus Tour to get around. I am sure there is much more to the city than what I saw.  Perhaps in a future visit I'll get to explore more.


These pictures were taken from the train en route to Vienna from Munich. 

Salzburg was one of our train stops.  From the platform, the area looked very nice.  Maybe on a return trip I'll visit here.

Along the banks of the inner canal, there is tons of graffiti - a lot of it political commentary.  

K and I took a 2-hour river cruise along the inner canal and Danube.  It was very peaceful and scenic.

I've settled on climbing to the top of some tall structure as one of my things to do when I travel.  The Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, church bell towers - you name it.  If it's got stairs, I am there.  Of course, I 100% second-guess the decision as soon as I start.  Hah!

This is St. Stephen's Cathedral.  The tallest tower, accessed by 343 steps, stands 136 meters (around 400 feet) above ground.  From there, a nice view of the city can be seen.

Vienna has an area known as MuseumsQuartier.  This area houses several attractions including the Leopold Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.  Timing wouldn't allow us to visit much, though we did go to the Butterfly Museum.  I mean come on...butterflies!


Near the end of the last day in Vienna, we went out to Schönbrunn Palace.  Again, timing did not allow us to tour the palace since we arrived to the site rather late.  Still, it was a nice walk around the grounds.

That's all for Vienna.  Out of the five cities I visited, this was my least favorite.  I don't think I had enough time to see all that it had to offer.  Next time...


Sewing news:  Sewing the coat tired me out, so my sewjo took a little break.  I got back into it yesterday and am almost finished with my second trench skirt.  I also cut out another skirt and a jacket.  Deets later.  Until next time, peace!




28 June 2016

Jamie Christina Abbey Coat: finished

Drum roll...

Yaaaaaaay!  After all of the hassle, I am happy that this coat is FINALLY done.  I suppose can't complain too much because I sewed it from start to finish in 20 days.  But still.  

My play son (and today's photographer) asked me, "So why do you make so many coats?"  LOL  I had NO answer for him.  I like making coats!

Fabric & Notions:
  • 4 yards of wool coating (stash; Metro Textiles)
  • 2 yards of Kasha flannel-backed satin lining
  • 1 fat quarter to make continuous bias for piping (JoAnn Fabrics)
  • fusible interfacing (stash; Mood NYC)
  • sew-in hair canvas (stash)
  • 9 7/8" gold metal buttons (Pacific Trimming NYC)
  • bias cut fleece strips for sleeve heads
  • 80/12 universal needle (for shell)
  • regular sewing and serger thread
  • walking foot

Pattern & Instructions:  The pattern is well drafted in that everything matches up nicely.  There are separate pattern pieces for the shell and lining as well as for the facing and upper/under collar.  
The lining pieces are already designed with built in ease and appropriate hem allowances.  I made the same alterations on the lining pieces instead of creating new ones. 
The instructions are very clear and well-written.  Pay close attention to the changes in seam-allowance, though.  While it may seem like a nuisance to some, I appreciated having smaller seam allowances in some areas:  flounce seam, collar seam, and cuffs.
The only illustration that caused some confusion was the one showing where the flounce is attached to the bottom of the coat.  The illustration shows that the edge should be flush with the center front.  However, my center front extended about an inch past the edge of the flounce.  

I figured this is how it should be since the flounce edge is finished before attaching it to the coat.  I reached out to a few PR members who sewed the coat as well as J. Christina.  They all assured me that this was correct.
I kind of liked that the instructions have you sew both the shell and lining together.  I usually do one at a time - even waiting to cut out the lining until I need it.  Doing it this way appeared to make things go quicker, though I did have to change out the machine and serger thread often. 

Tailoring:  The whole front is interfaced with heavyweight sew-in hair canvas using Kenneth D. King's method found in Cool Couture: Construction Secrets for Runway Style. 

The canvas is sewn to a lightweight piece of cotton using a serpentine or zigzag stitch (left pic).  Then the extra canvas is cut out of the seam allowance to reduce bulk.  On the side *facing* the fashion fabric, the lightweight cotton is cut out of the center (right pic).  Finally, the cotton-canvas unit is hand basted to the fashion fabric.  Below is a picture of the whole front completely interfaced.

I used the same heavyweight hair canvas as a back stay.
Finally, I added sleeve heads as usual to help pad the sleeve cap and make setting the sleeve easier.  Both sleeves went in smoothly on the first try.  Wuuuuuuuut!

Construction:  I finished the edges with my serger and sewed all of the seams on my sewing machine.  I am firmly in the not-couture camp.  If I can serge it, I will.
The buttonholes were a friggin' nightmare.  Oh man.  I was supposed to make nine; I stopped at five and used snaps on the cuffs.  I was SOOOO frustrated because my machine was having none of this thickness.  Two of the five buttonholes had to be completed step by step using a zigzag stitch.  Don't look to closely...mmmmkay?  

The fabric thickness didn't really allow me to get close to the center front.  I don't like how far in the buttons are but there's nothing I can do.  When I make the next coat (haha), I will either take more care to grade the seam allowance or learn how to do bound buttonholes.

I included self-made piping between the facing and lining for fun.  
My play son asked, "why is the fly shit on the inside?  This should be on the outside!" He thinks I should have piped around the collar etc.  Hmm...maybe on the next trench coat...

I used a regular fat quarter to make bias strips measuring 1.5 inches wide.  

I wavered between using the batik shown and another one that was primarily blue.  While I like the one pictured, I wish I had used the other one because it would give way more contrast. 

Conclusion:  Love!  I won't be able to wear heavy clothes underneath, but this is still a good transition coat.  I adore how it moves too!  I am so glad that I removed the interfacing from the flounce; the coat would not be as fluid.  I am also glad that I shortened the overall length.  That extra length made a world of difference; I went from oompa-loompa to not too shabby. =)

J. always gets me with the spontaneous action shots.  I was turning around to button the coat while he was snapping away!  Aaaah the swirl!

And a very lovely picture of my play son, future Dr. M.  He's a sweetheart through and through.  I couldn't be more proud of all that he has accomplished and what he has yet to give to the world. 

This little guy stopped to watch the photo shoot while munching on a grape.  Maybe squirrels shouldn't have grapes because this one was TURNT after like five minutes.  It ran all over the place hopping up and down doing flips and barrel rolls.  Still cute though. =)

Up next?  A nap and then to finish the accidental trench skirt.  

Until next time, peace!


25 June 2016

Jamie Christina Abbey Coat (fitting & adjustments)

The second of my three works in progress is almost finished.  The problems I encountered were fully brought on by me not trusting my measurements and not paying attention to detail.

Mistake #1:  I am short.

I know this.  I've always known this.  Every time I need to reach for something on the top shelf at the grocery store, I have to stand on my toes, ask someone taller than me, or, on rare occasion, grab a broom from the cleaning aisle.

Why I don't take this into consideration when I sew - particularly bodices - is a mystery.  I KNOW I need to shorten the bodice proportionately  to match my height, yet I don't.  Well sewing this coat has put my shortcomings (hah!) on full display.

Mistake #2:  I did not pay close attention to the pattern cover.

The modeled version of the coat on the pattern cover clearly shows the flounce ending above the knees.  Coupled with my height, the flounce of my pre-hacked fell below my knees. 

Mistake #3:  I did not pay close attention to the fit description (emphasis mine).

"A sewing pattern to make a semi-fitted, fully lined coat. The Abbey Coat features princess seams, 3/4 sleeves, and a peter pan collar. View A is made with the flounce and view B is made with out the flounce."

I started with a size 16 in the shoulders and neckline, gradually morphing out to an 18 in the bust and back to 16 in the hip and hem.  I figured the extra width would be good for accommodating thicker clothes.  Bad idea.  The coat ended up being way too big and I looked like a radioactive strawberry.  I could have sewn a straight 16 - maybe even 14. 

I could have saved myself a lot of hassle had I added the flounce to the muslin.

I didn't think that was necessary because it's a flounce.  What fitting issues could there be?  I could have also saved time by making petite adjustments right from the jump.  Looking at this pictures now, I can see that the bodice is too long.  The waist line is a couple of inches below where it should be.  Ah well.  Hindsight.

Pre-hack Adjustments:   I lowered the bust fullness 1" (on both the side front and center front pieces) and added 5/8" at bust level near the armhole.  This is similar to an upper broad back adjustment.   I did not do a traditional FBA.  

I made a 1" full bicep adjustment and added 2 inches to the length.  

Hacks:  To save the coat, I removed the flounce and took off 1.5 inches from the bottom.  I asked for ideas on Instagram and many suggested adding a waist seam.  This would have been my plan if shortening at the hem didn't work.

I also removed about an 1.5 inches from each side seam.  Talk about too big!  While the coat is more fitted now, wearing something heavy underneath is no longer an option.  No big deal.  I can wear this with a light sweater between the fall and winter seasons.

In these pictures, I'm using the trimmed width to make the same adjustment on the lining.  I trimmed away the extra and then marked the seam line from that edge.

Originally I added side seam pockets, but the position of the pockets exacerbated the fullness above the flounce.  So the pockets had to go. 

I had to make a few more minor adjustments as I sewed.  Trim here...snip there...and there...and there.  Unpick all of that and start over.

This was a regular scene in my sewing room.


The facing is attached and the sleeve cuffs are done.  All that's left is buttonholes and buttons. 

Whew!  This is definitely an EPIC coat - but not in the way I originally imagined.  I thought the tailoring would consume a lot of time.  Using KDK's method for sew-in interfacing took very little time.  It was the repeated stitching and unstitching that increased the time.  Hopefully I will be done in the next couple of days!

Until next time, peace!



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