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Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
I’m not sure I would have originally chosen to make myself a coat in this style, had I only seen the pattern for sale. After all, I already have 4 (store-bought) fancy coats to wear when I’m dressed up and I wasn’t sure I could justify a fifth.
But the collar was interesting, and the more I considered it, the more I could see myself finding a way to make it my own. Plus, pattern testing for a designer is always a fun challenge because it forces me to try styles I may have passed over otherwise. (How can you grow if you won’t step outside your comfort zone?)
I’m intrigued by Lolita Patterns for two basic reasons:
One, they are based on the Japanese style of dress called Lolita fashion that is both girly and conservative, meaning you get the cute anime look without the sleazy, Halloween-costume vibe. (Lolita fashion. Now I finally have a term for that style!)
And two, the pattern sizing is based on two separate blocks and has very little design ease. Technically, my measurements were not on the chart, so I was hoping that the “very little ease” part would work in my favor.
Disclaimer: My version of the Spearmint coat is based on the test pattern I was given. The test pattern needed more work than Amity originally anticipated, and the final pattern being sold has been corrected, but I’m not sure exactly how my end results compare to the finalized pattern.
Also keep in mind that this is being labeled as a “top coat” for a “California winter,” or a “transitional coat” for more extreme climates, and some of my alterations were done to allow me the option of wearing thicker layers with mine. (I plan to wear mine most during Spring and Autumn.)
I chose to make the shorter version of the coat, which is actually 6 inches shorter than the final pattern – it’s now drafted to hit more at the knee.
I went digging through my fabric stash and came up with 2 yards of heavy weight 100% cotton blue denim (I bought it 5 or 6 years ago because it was only $2/yard). I also had 2 yards of an amazing dress form print quilting cotton that I thought would make a fun lining.
The pattern called for 3 yards of each, but I am “The Queen of Eking” and I was determined to eke it out of something I had.
No matter how much I wanted to like the shade of the denim’s blue, I just wasn’t feeling it. It was a bit mom-jean blue or something. It might have worked well if I distressed it after making the coat, but since I couldn’t be sure, I didn’t want to take the chance.
So I pondered my options while I made my two mockups and preshrunk my fabric a total of 3 times (washed in hot and heat dried). I didn’t have any fabric to spare, so there was no room for error.
Ultimately, I deliberately decided to use the wrong-side of the denim as the right-side. It has a slightly heathered grey-blue look from a distance but it’s definitely a twill weave up close.
I simply liked the wrong-side color more, and it even coordinated better with the lining print. And, as you would expect, no two pairs of jeans in my closet are the same shade of blue, so I knew a coat this more neutral color would go with all of them. Besides, the head-to-toe matching denim look is a total fashion no-no for me anyway. My personal rule of thumb is: make whatever you wear look intentionally styled. If someone has to wonder if you meant to do something, you didn’t make the contrast obvious enough.
As I mentioned before, two mockups were made, and this was so I could be sure my alterations were satisfactory. I only tested the outer layer, and didn’t bother with the pockets for my mockups (Not bothering with things like lining or under collar saves time and muslin too, but I did make corrections to all the paper pattern pieces for the lining as I went.)
Main changes made to the pattern, based on my first mockup:
The second mockup turned out to be unnecessary because my alterations were good, but I’m glad I took the time to be sure and didn’t jump right to the real fabric.
These are perfect examples of why mockups are necessary! And don’t feel like you have to make a completed item! I didn’t do a lining, pockets, buttonhole, or true hems (I just folded edges once and basted down to check finished length).
So it was finally on to the real fabric!
Sure enough, I managed to eke everything out of the 2 yards of fabric. It helped that I had reduced some of the collar width and that the pattern has only 3/8 inch seam allowance. (Note: you may want to add to the seam allowance if you make a Spearmint with fabric that frays easily.) Astonishingly, I only had to piece two pieces!
I put a seam in the center back of the neck facing, which I then topstitched and mostly covered with a tag.
And I creatively pieced one side of the under collar, which no one will ever see unless I lift the back of the collar to show them.
For the most part, I followed the written instructions just as they were. I did, however, make a few exceptions based on personal preferences:
After joining the coat to the lining and adding one large button, I had a completed Spearmint!
And here are a few more photos of some of the details:
Overall, this is a great pattern! The pieces fit together very nicely and I love the separately drafted lining and finishing details. The instructions may be a little brief for a beginner, but with the extra tutorials and sewalongs on the Lolita Patterns blog, most sewists of any level should have no trouble making this lovely coat for themselves.
As payment for being a pattern tester, I was given one copy of the paper pattern.
Obviously, I do not need another copy since I have already altered and adjusted the test pattern to my liking. So it’s Giveaway time!
If you would like a chance to win a copy of this pattern in its beautiful packaging, just follow these simple rules:
Giveaway is open to all locations. Winner will be chosen at random.
Deadline for entry is closed
at 11:59pm on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 United States Central Time (GMT -6). I’ll announce the winner in a post on the following day. Winner announced in this post.
Good luck and Happy New Year!
And now if you’ll excuse me, Wensley sees that I am wearing a coat and thinks we’re going for a walk…
Sometimes, I just need a break from projects that require me to think. I’m constantly engineering, prototyping, and problem-solving when sewing – it can be exhausting and burn me out.
I knew from talking to Erin on Twitter that she was my kind of perfectionist because I’ve seen how meticulously she tests her patterns before offering them in her shop. And I knew that she would be giving me the gift of a fun little project where all the brain cramps had been suffered for me.
I was not disappointed!
Erin’s instructions are amazing. A detailed supply list. Full step-by-step, with beautiful color photographs. Multiple options and ways to customize.
And her pricing is hardly charging what the sewing instructions alone are really worth!
Yeah, I can make a bag pattern, but why bother when Erin already has, and has already tested… and tested… and perfected?
Anyone can make professional looking bags with instructions like hers, truly. (When he saw it, my husband actually thought the first one I made was retail merchandise! “Where’d you get this?” was, in fact, uttered.)
I have plans to make other versions (especially when I need a break from thinking!), but here are the three I’ve made so far in more detail:
The best part about all of this is that I have a free copy of the wristlet pattern to offer to anyone who comments on this post. But you have to be quick!
Drawing for the free PDF pattern is closed
only open until 3pm on Saturday, September 21, 2013 United States Central Time (GMT -6). I will announce the winner in a short post that evening. Winner announced in this post.
I already have a 4th bag (another large version) cut out and ready to assemble.
So leave me a comment for a chance to win the pattern and make your own. And check out all of Erin’s other great bag patterns too!
Thanks, Erin, for the great pattern!
Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments on the last post! I had a lot of fun reading about everyone’s sewing projects!
There were quite a few of you in need of a good press cloth and I really wish I had enough to send one to everyone!
I wrote all the entries on paper (I’m old school like that, plus it gave me something to take photos of):
As promised, for the small cloth drawing, I put everyone’s name into the hat:
And then my husband drew the names of the winners.
The first winner of a silk organza press cloth is:
The second name drawn was:
Winner number three is:
And the winner of the larger press cloth for her entertaining comment is:
But wait! There’s more!
Right after I published the giveaway post, I found a 5th press cloth! It had slipped off of my ironing board and into a stray bag of fabric, and I had forgotten the exact number of press cloths I had made.
So there’s one more lucky winner! The final press cloth goes to:
Congratulations to IngeMaakt, Bird and Bicycle, LauraHoj, The Seeds of 3, AND Karen! Please email me your mailing addresses, ladies, and I will get them in the mail sometime this week.
And since I can’t send one to the rest of you, I will share this video with you (because The Seeds of 3’s comment got the song stuck in my head):
I’ve had a couple of freelance costuming jobs this year that I haven’t really blogged about – partly because there wasn’t much to make a complete post and partly because I just never sat down to go through some of the photos I had already shared elsewhere on the internet. Y’know, lint balls of life.
They did a production of The Aspern Papers, which was a complete costume build. (Yay! A period costume build!) Usually, they either rent the majority of a show’s costumes or pull them from storage, and then just build just a few key pieces for the leads.
There was lots of menswear and tailoring. But I did get to help with the construction of one dress:
Then I did some work at home (read: not personal projects) like pattern testing Disparate Discipline’s Avocado Hoodie.
I had way too much fun sewing Lyle’s designs with the amazing fabrics he bought! You may have realized this from all the photos I posted on Instagram. Here are some of my favorites:
At the end of June (actually the day after I finished Shakespeare), I met fellow costumer Deborah Lynn Dixon, of Colorado. She stumbled across my blog earlier in the year during a bit of random web surfing. We met for lunch while she was passing through the Dallas Area on business.
She has developed an amazing product and technique for embossing fabric with glitter and paint that can look like intricate beadwork.
And just before I started sewing for Shakespeare this year, I applied and was hired to work a part-time job at a local fabric store called Fabrique. It’s a nice little apparel fabric store and the owner is willing to work around my unpredictable freelancing schedule. =)
Fabrique has a website but not everything in inventory is listed for online ordering – you just have to ask (phone or email) if you don’t see something you’re looking for on the site. (Right now, there is Free Shipping on orders of $50 or more until August 14!)
So far, I have been pretty good about not bringing all the fabric home with me. I’ve only bought a couple things. One being some of this outer space print chiffon:
I have 3 sewing projects for others in process right now, and I start another long-term freelance costuming job this coming Monday. I’ll share the details of that job and the undisclosed projects as I can in future posts.
Well, enough lint balls. Let’s talk about that giveaway mentioned in the title of this post!
Since I now work part-time at a fabric store, I finally remembered to buy myself some silk organza to use as a press cloth. It’s my favorite type of press cloth because I can actually see what I’m ironing underneath it.
And I bought myself enough so that I could share!
I have 3 small and 1 slightly larger press cloth to give away to 4 lucky winners! (The small size is 18.5in x 13.5in. The large one is 18.5in x 18in.)
To enter to win:
Giveaway is open to all locations. Winners will be chosen at random for the smaller cloths. The large cloth will go to the submitter of the comment that…um…entertains me the most!
Deadline for entry is closed
11:59pm on Friday, August 16, 2013 United States Central Time (GMT -6). I’ll announce the winners in a post on Saturday August 17. See who won in this post.
Press cloths are neatly serged & standing by to be put in envelopes and mailed to new homes!
And one last thing that a lot of you might be interested in: the sale of vintage sewing patterns at Vintage Martini is being discontinued. They just uploaded a ton of new listings and they are marked down to almost nothing! Go check out the great patterns (after you comment of course)!
I would like to thank all of you who left me a comment on the last post! I love hearing from my readers and it’s helpful to know that I’m posting about things you guys are interested in reading about. Thank you so much for the useful feedback! =)
I really wish I had something to send to each and every one of you!
But, as promised, I have randomly selected the winner of my first giveaway (with the help of my husband):
I should have known he would be a comedian hand-model. It was really hard to get non-blurry photos because I couldn’t stop laughing!
I’m sure there is a fancy more high-tech way to make a random selection, but I’m new to the giveaway thing and just did it the old fashioned way.
The comments were printed, cut into strips, names written in marker on the backs, and folded into tiny packets:
And because I couldn’t resist, the names were then placed in a hat, from which my husband blindly selected one to be the winner.
Is the suspense killing you?
(hehe, sorry. *grin*)
The winner of the book is…
…Karen M. Franceschini! Congratulations and check your email for more details, Karen. =)
Now it’s time for me to get back to making cheerleading uniforms.
Back in November of 2011, I received an email from sewing author & blogger Christelle Beneytout asking for permission to feature my sewing room in a book about sewing spaces and organization. I was beyond thrilled that anyone would think my sewing space & ideas were worthy of publication!
After many emails back & forth, I was able to get some decent high resolution photos of my sewing room to her (she even wanted one of me, hence the post title), and I eagerly awaited the news that her book was finished.
Well, yesterday, I opened the front door to find that a package had been delivered containing her book… and she sent me an extra copy!
Therefore, I’ve decided to share – by hosting my first giveaway!
Fair warning about this giveaway: the book isn’t in English (and I’m not sure if there are plans for a published translation), so you won’t actually be able to read it unless you can read French. But there are plenty of wonderful photos, and you can always use Google Translate for the parts you really want to understand (that’s how I’ve been “reading” it).
The giveaway is open to all locations.
To enter, just leave a comment on this post following these simple rules:
Even if you don’t want to enter to win the book, you can still leave a comment! =)
Thank you, Christelle, for saying such nice things about me and my sewing space! I’m honored you included my ideas in your lovely book!