Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Garment-weight Neoprene Coat

B6254, Misses' Coat Dress

I went out on a limb the last few weeks and made a very colourful spring coat from garment-weight neoprene. The last coat I made was grey wool with black lining - exciting, eh? So I promised myself to be a little more daring next time. I chose The Butterick 6254 Katherine Tilton coat pattern. 

I bought my fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics after first having them mail swatches to me. I chose Hothouse Flowers garment-weigh neoprene for the front and back of the coat and the outer collar. For the sleeves and inner collar and pockets, I used Hot Coral Italian soft and drapey rayon doubleknit. I prewashed both fabrics by handwashing in cool water. 

Changes/additions I made:

  • I made View A (above) but used in-seam pockets instead of patch pockets. 
  • Shortened bodice 1/2 inch because I'm short-waisted
  • Used stay tape on horizontal parts of seams and on seam joining yoke pieces with the doubleknit as it was pretty stretchy
  • Sewed the seams with a 0.5mm wide zigzag stitch, 2.5mm long. But used straight stitch on neckline/collar attachment and straight edge of pockets
  • I thought the dart at the shoulder would be too thick if pressed to the side so I slit it and pressed it open
  • Reinforced collar corners as described in Sarah Veblen's pattern review class on Expert Sewing Techniques for Jackets - great class by the way.
  • Understitched collar facing with a straight stitch
  • Understitched front facings with 3-step zigzag, 3mm wide, 2.5mm long (see photo above). Served the purpose and even looks nice. Did it before doing the facing side of the bound buttonholes
  • Made bound buttonholes - took as long as the rest of the coat but definitely worth it. I followed the instructions in Karen Ball's ebook 'How to make a bound buttonhole'. 
  • Interfaced pocket fronts to reduce stretch
Things I learned:
  • The coat has dolman sleeves - I couldn't tell from the pattern photos
  • The pattern was a little off the grain on the neoprene. I went with the pattern rather than the grain and it worked - phew!
  • Neoprene needs a very sharp rotary cutter. Lift it frequently. And before you lift up the fabric piece you have just cut, run your fingers around the whole perimeter and find all the invisible strands of fabric that still aren't cut through!
  • I couldn't find any knit interfacing here in Christchurch but I found a very soft drapey woven one that worked fine. 
  • The doubleknit was stretchier than the neoprene  and the neoprene was stretchier than the interfaced neoprene so I sewed with the stretchier side down and eventually switched to using my walking foot
  • Don't sew the front facings to the front at the bottom until you have hung the coat on a hanger or dressform and determined how the facing is going to sit relative to the front. I had to attach the facing moving diagonally up a little as I moved away from the edge so that it would hang right.
So here it is!

It feels great on and it's just the weight I wanted. A definite change from grey wool with black lining! I should have used a stiffer interfacing in the collar as it turned out kind of floppy. I'm not sure yet if I like the dolman sleeves. They are very obvious because the sleeve collar contrasts so much with the body. I love the bound buttonholes, even if the big orange buttons do cover them up. As it's a bit of a statement, I can't see myself making another one unless it's for someone else.
 2015 Color Blocked Contest 200px

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm back!

More than eight years since my last post! How life has changed. Ross and I are now married and live on a small farm outside of Christchurch. I have 2 grandchildren back in the US and I was at both of their births - what an awesome experience - all of the joy with none of the pain!

These days I'm into sewing, singing and playing tennis. No tennis today though as the hail is hammering down and it's 6C out. What happened to spring? We even have the fire lit.

I'm going to use this blog to document my sewing so those of you who are keen on all things New Zealand - sorry!

We were recently in Hawaii with my kids and grandkids. Quilting is big in Hawaii so there are lots of fabric shops. My granddaughter (Juniper, age 4 1/2), my daughter (Auntie Amy) and I went to Dragon Mama in Hilo and bought some Batiq cotton for a dress for Juniper and a matching one for her doll. Juniper loved every fabric in the shop so it was fun choosing and I was guaranteed she would love the final choice. She carried the package the rest of the day. When we got up the next morning at the hotel, she wanted to know if I had finished it yet! Well, I have now but it will have to wait for her 5th birthday so it will fit and the weather will be warm again in the US.

I used McCalls 7233.

I followed the pattern other than a few changes. I didn't make a contrasting collar as I couldn't find anything that looked good. I made a self-fabric bias strip for finishing the collar rather than bias tape. 
 I also used a seam overcast stitch rather than a straight stitch for the second seam attching the sleeves and the ruffles.
 By the time I thought of it, it was too late to make a tab buttonhole out of fabric so I just made the thread loop one suggested.
I used a 3-thread serge to finish the side seam edges, shoulders and sleeve side seam before sewing any pieces together.  It was a pretty easy pattern to make although a little time consuming doing all the ruffles and gathered sleeve seams. I can hardly wait to see it on her! I think the dress is too big for her doll (it's for an 18-inch doll) so I might have to get her a new doll as well.