Finally ….. I am proud to present: The 1960s Coat

Greetings all on this last day of the half term,

I am SO pleased to say that I have FINALLY finished my coat and here it is!

imageIt has taken four weeks of a weekly workshop at Sew Over It, Clapham with the super talented, super patient Julie and four weekends of homework (which has been substantial).  I have blogged each week charting my different feelings towards the project which have veered from extreme frustration and desperation through to pleasure and wonderment. If you are new to my blog and are interested in its journey (someone might be – certainly no-one in my household is) then you can read about it here: week one; week two; week three; week four.

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I think it is only fair I give huge credit to Julie who held my hand throughout the process.  I found the number of pattern pieces overwhelming: lining, interlining and shell.  The lined pockets incorporated into the seam took me one whole workshop of three hours.  I don’t drive; I don’t have any spatial awareness. Similar deficiencies became apparent during sewing – I find construction really quite baffling and when some particular aspect finally comes together, it seems to me to be as if by magic.

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I was also lucky enough to meet David Miller of DM Buttons  in Soho who expertly made my buttonholes and the funky buttons came from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton – I was really lucky to get some which managed to perfectly match the flower design of the coat.

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The fabric came from Guthrie and Ghani who also supplied the lining.  I would highly recommend Lauren’s store for online purchases. She was extremely helpful, sending swatches and confirming that the fabric would be suitable for the coat I was going to make.  Items purchased always arrive swiftly and are beautifully packaged.  Ooh dear – this could be beginning to sound like an Oscar Acceptance speech – so after, Julie, David and Lauren there was me!  Regular readers will know how I frequently feel deflated and am quick to point out errors but I really am chuffed to bits with my coat – it is certainly my most ambitious make to date – and probably a feat never to be attempted again!imageimageIn order to consolidate my learning (SUCH a teacher), I really should go straight into another one – perhaps in a cotton twill or canvas for summer.  I know this would be the best way to ensure I do not forget all of the techniques I learned but I am not sure I have the motivation to keep going by myself.  Knowing I had to face Julie and my fellow workshop chums each week meant I tried hard to do all of my homework and keep more or less on track.

So there you go, the journey of my 1960s coat has finally reached its destination.  The photos were taken in Arundel this morning on a cold but bright sunny day and the coat kept me warm.

One final comment – a question actually: I have three weddings to go to this year.  I am toying with the idea of making a little dress in the same fabric as the coat to wear together as a set – perhaps a sleeveless shift or a Megan – a la Jackie Onassis.  What do you think? Would it be too much?

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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The Button Man

Hello fellow sewistas, are you having a good week?

Last night was the final night of my coat making workshop at Sew Over It  – do I have a finished coat? Of course, I don’t! However, it should be completed by the end of the week. I did have an interesting day though – I met the Button Man of Soho.

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Our tutor had recommended that we have our buttonholes done at DM Buttons in Soho. As the establishment’s opening hours are 7.30 – 3pm, I knew I would only be able to get there in school holidays so although I think it is more usual to do your buttonholes as part of the finishing touches, I decided to visit yesterday before my final class as I didn’t want to be in the position of having a finished coat and then having to wait until Easter before I could get them done.

I am a Londoner, born and bred, and one of the lovely things about London is that you can find things off the beaten track that you never knew existed before and DM Buttons was one such experience.  In Soho I went down a side street, then down an alley (Mews to use the correct term) and then right at the very end was a white doorway that opened onto a steep staircase down which I descended to the basement to find the Button Man busily working away on a gorgeous gold corset style bodice.

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I was fascinated at the number of industrial machines and how quickly the buttonholes were done.  I had marked them up in advance but I had to re-do with tailor’s chalk and then whoosh – four keyhole buttons holes in a flash.  Honestly, it was the most amazing service – super efficient and super cheap: £4  I could not recommend this service enough. When Julie first suggested we get our buttonholes done I thought that was a bit of a cheat but of course, I see now it makes perfect sense to have something so prominent as buttonholes on a major garment finished professionally.

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See – perfect?  If you remember my button hole fiasco on the yoke top you will agree that I made a wise decision!

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The other interesting thing I discovered yesterday on my sewing journey is that  I have big shoulders – even more unfair as I have non-existent boobs. At class we spent ages learning how to place, sew-in (handsewing) and then secure the lining to shoulder pads – I guess that took about an hour an a half – I am such a slow coach at everything.  Anyway, once I tried my coat on it looked really odd – I didn’t get any photos as I was too busy weeping at that point. Instead of a nice line falling straight down the sleeve from the shoulder pad, there was a bulge outwards where my big shoulders were wider than the pads (which I originally thought were rather chunky).  It completely spoilt the line so there was nothing to do but to unpick all of my hand sewing and remove them.  By complete coincidence I read a blog post from Crab and Bee this morning about fitting clothes based on your shoulder size – who knew we had a shoulder size?

Half term is going well; lots of family stuff intermingled with sewing, marking, reading and walking on the beach. Hope to do an update on my half term projects at the end of the week.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x