Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Tag Archives: giveaway

A Denim Spearmint

Back in October, I was a pattern tester for Lolita Patterns and got to test the pattern for the new Spearmint coat.

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.

Technical drawings of the Lolita Patterns Spearmint Coat.

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.

Blue denim for the outside and fun print for the lining.

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.

Is this back-side of the fabric great, or what?! The heathered-looking denim and contrast topstitching would add a casual vibe to the dressy coat design, making it easier to dress up or down, depending on the occasion. I couldn’t find topstitching thread in the coral color I wanted, so I used outdoor polyester thread because it’s thicker and shows better than regular thread.

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.)

The chopped & marked up version of the first mockup. It’s really wrinkled from being carried around in a bag for a few days.

Main changes made to the pattern, based on my first mockup:

  • Reduced the width of the collar – mainly at the shoulder and back – so it wasn’t so overwhelming on my small frame. I anticipated the need for this because I often have to shrink large scale design elements. (Photos of the first mockup show the collar at a stage where I had taken it too far in my experimenting.)
  • Narrowed the center front opening so it wouldn’t try to spread open to the sides of my bust in an unflattering way (the princess seams were in the correct place, but the neckline wanted to shift everything out to the sides).
  • Added just a slight bit of room to the center back.
  • Increased the armseye and sleeve ease so I could comfortably wear layers.

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.

Second mockup. Much better fit.

Side-by-side comparison of fit.
These mockup photos look like fancy lab coats, especially since I was wearing my glasses. Mockups for science!

You can really see how badly the sleeve was pulling on the first version. It was so tight it was hard to bend my arm. The sleeves also look a little short on the first compared to the second because they caught on my sweater underneath. I did not change the length of the pattern pieces.

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.

My 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.

After cutting out all the other pieces, I laid out my fabric scraps until I could fit the collar pattern (being careful to cut the mirror image of the piece I already cut out). I didn’t really bother with making sure all the scraps were on grain – in any case, it was just the under collar. Then I pinned and stitched the scraps before cutting.

For the most part, I followed the written instructions just as they were. I did, however, make a few exceptions based on personal preferences:

  • I did not use the horsehair canvas in the ruffle collar. My denim was plenty thick and I knew the two layers of the collar would be more than stiff enough to hold its shape on its own.
  • Nor did I use necktie lining to ease in the sleeve caps because I didn’t want to add thickness to the denim. (The pattern did fit really well together so there wasn’t much need for ease assistance.)
  • I chose not to turn the coat through the sleeve lining for two reasons. 1. Thick denim. 2. I like to construct collars completely separate before attaching them to a garment. There is more control, thus, the end result looks better. I turned my coat through an opening at the center back hem that was about 8 inches wide and slipstitched the lining to the coat hem to close it by hand.
  • For easier on and off, I used antistatic lining fabric for the sleeve lining instead of the same fabric I used for the rest of the lining.
  • I added tons of decorative topstitching.
  • I added a coat hook loop.

Ruffle collar assembly.
Constructing the collar separately allows for easier pressing of the edge seam (tailor’s ham inserted inside in bottom left photo). I also topstitched around the outside edge before attaching the collar on the coat.

Added coat hook loop at center back where the collar joins the neck facing.
I used the selvage printing dots from my lining fabric. I love how the dots add interest and still coordinate with the lining.

Outside and lining both constructed.
Final try-on before joining the two together. The lining reminds me of a kimono with its combination of fabrics.

After joining the coat to the lining and adding one large button, I had a completed Spearmint!

Finished Spearmint Coat.

And here are a few more photos of some of the details:

The fun print lining!

The pattern’s included instructions for the bound buttonhole are wonderful. I added topstitching around it to match the rest of the coat.

Because I did so much topstitching on my coat, I chose to reinforce the pockets to match. I decided to close my pockets up about 2 more inches after realizing the opening was a lot bigger than I needed it to be – thus, there are two bar tacks on the bottom. This also allows me to carry my phone in a pocket without worrying about it falling out.

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.

You can buy the Spearmint coat pattern (#5013) from Lolita Patterns in either paper copy or instant PDF download.

The paged PDF is 64 pages, so if you get the PDF, I highly recommend using the print shop version and having a place like Staples print it on large paper for you. I love having the ability to print off small “fit to page” copies of the large print shop version before I taking it to the printer, and the copies also made handy references to overall pattern while I was working.

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:

  1. Leave me a comment on this post and be clear that you want to enter. (Any comments are welcome, even if you don’t want to be entered in the drawing, but you have to let me know if you are entering!)
  2. In your comment, include your plans for your version  – fabric, color, etc. How do you intend to make it your own?

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…

Advertisements

Shoe Fruit Games!

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.

So when Erin of Dog Under My Desk offered to give a bag pattern away to anyone who was interested in sewing one and blogging about it, I said “sign me up!” and I chose The Essential Wristlet pattern.

Click to see the other blogs that are part of the blog hop plus all the individual giveaways!

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:

3 wristlets – one small and two large.
They make perfect little clutch purses or bags to go in a larger bag or purse.
(Phone for size comparison.)

Bingo-Print-Bag

Small size wristlet.
I used a lobster clasp with detachable keyring on my bags.

Large size wristlet.
I shortened the wrist loop a little after making the previous bag.

Large size wristlet with double zipper & outer pocket.

My Samsung Galaxy 3 phone fits in both the small and large size wristlets, but it is a little tight in the small (top) bag.

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.

I figured something simple like a wristlet would be a nice project for the scraps of such hateful fabric (you might remember the metallic brocade from this post).

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!

The Sorting Hat Has (Sort of) Spoken

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):

Lint Balls of My Life… Plus a Little Giveaway!

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.

Back in March and April, I spent time working at The Dallas Opera. (You may remember me mentioning my job at the opera because it was during this time I made my Easter dress.)

The costume shop at The Dallas Opera

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:

Dress from the opera The Aspern Papers

Then I did some work at home (read: not personal projects) like pattern testing Disparate Discipline’s Avocado Hoodie.

In May and June, I once again worked for Shakespeare Festival of Dallas. This year’s summer shows were A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pericles with costume design by Lyle Huchton.

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:

Shakespeare Costumes

This dress for the princess in Pericles was the one I did the most work on.

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.

The embossing is permanent, flexible, & lightweight, and it can be gently washed or dry cleaned!

You can read more about the embossing process here and here. I can’t wait until she starts marketing her embossing supplies and instructions – I want to try it! (psst! Deborah, you need a blog!)

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 Fabrics

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:

There’s still some in stock if anyone else wants some!

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.

A silk organza press cloth can take a high level of heat while still protecting other fabrics from the iron. And the bonus is it’s see-through!

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:

  1. Be a sewist/sewcialist who needs a good press cloth.
  2. Leave me a comment on this post and tell me you’d like to enter.
  3. Let everyone know what you are currently sewing in your comment. (Include any related links if you have photos posted somewhere.)

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!

If you’re wondering why my ironing board is backwards, read this post.

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)!

And We Have a Winner!

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.

And drumroll…

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.

That’s nearly 50 yards of fabric and close to 250 buttons!
Anyone want to come over and sew on some buttons?

I’m in a Book! So Let’s Have a Giveaway!

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 book’s title translates to
Workshops & Sewing Corners: Organizing Space Dedicated to Needlework

The giveaway is open to all locations. To enter, just leave a comment on this post following these simple rules:

  1. Let me know that you want to enter.
  2. Tell me how you discovered my blog and what you like best about it. (You can make requests about what you’d like to see/read about in future posts – any feedback is welcome!)
  3. Share your own sewing/crafting organization tip (no one can ever be too organized!).
  4. Please only enter for yourself – not for your friend or family member who has never read my blog. (I really want to share this with one of my readers!)
  5. Deadline for entry is 11:59pm on Friday, February 8, 2013 United States Central Time (GMT –6). Winner was announced in this post on Saturday the 9th.

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!

Page 54 & 55

%d bloggers like this: