Tag: lady grey sew-along

My Coat is Finished (or Rethinking the Social Network)

Remember the Lady Grey coat? Ah yes, I finally got around to getting some photos.

I’d love to be able to document some of my sewing projects but it’s a huge amount of work to get them photographed properly. I admire bloggers who seem to have personal paparazzi following them around. Ha.

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Lady Grey Coat and Tailoring with Fusibles

Phew, after a few months of delay and other projects and big birthdays, I was finally able to get back to my coat project.

I had a lengthy fitting process to begin with–I was determined to cut the sleeves correctly and avoid all the sleeve ease. In the end what I came up with was a serious hack, so I’m not going to publish it here. I also redrafted the entire lining because I discovered some of the lengths between pieces didn’t match. (I’m wondering how others get around this.)

Just cutting this thing out took several sessions. The front is 7 pieces, the lining is 10, then two collar pieces, one long belt and belt loops. Then there’s the interfacing. Oh yay, more cutting!

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Adventures in Design Perfection

{Or how I learned not to trust patterns and wrestled with a sleeve cap in order to avoid stabbing myself with pins.}

I’m still in the throes of fitting my Lady Grey muslin. For about a week, there has been pattern paper and tracing paper thrown all over my office. In my spare time, I’ve been tracing and re-tracing. I had to adjust quite a bit in the bust area, and then realized the bust area comprised 2 front pieces, 1 facing and 2 lining pieces. It is not as simple as taking a dart out of one-piece bodice.

There is something about sewing patterns that brings out the utter abstractionist in me. Looking at the pattern and imagining how it works has become more fun than sewing it. As a teenager, I used to think the fun part of sewing was in the actual sewing, getting to the machine. The faster I could get things cut out the better.

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Lady Grey and Muslin Tweaking

The first time I made a “muslin” out of muslin, the project went awry. I was making a coat out of Chinese silk brocade. In muslin, the pattern behaved badly and I kept fitting and re-fitting the sleeves, cutting and re-cutting the muslin, until I realized that in silk the thing would have draped and fit quite perfectly the first time around.

I’ll pause here for my non-sewing readers who might ask, what the heck is a muslin?

Muslin: a term used varyingly by dressmakers to refer either to a testing/fitting garment or the actual fabric. Muslin is a cheap, often unbleached, cotton fabric. Geeky writerly explanation: using it in the former manner is synecdoche, a metaphor in which a part of a whole represents the whole. I think English dressmakers call the test garment “toile”, and the cotton fabric used to make it “calico”. I kinda like the distinction. Oh, and ‘muslin’ was an older colonial word for ‘muslim’, since the origin of the textile and clothing made from it came from ‘muslin’ traders. (Just as denim comes “from Nimes” — “de NĂ®mes”.) I just love etymology.

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Lady Grey progress and thoughts on tailoring

Things are moving fast over at Gertie’s Lady Grey Sew-Along. Apparently I should be cutting out my muslin now. The muslin fabric is ironed and laid out on my cutting table, the pattern is half cut out, but time is short and limited. I figured I have a total of 4-5 sewing hours a week. One would think that is enough but I am working on three other projects, including an apron dress for my friend Hannah and a pair of trousers that I will be posting about soon. Another is a surprise.

I really love the fabric I chose for the coat. It came in last week and is just gorgeous. I can’t for the life of me decide on lining fabric, which needs to be ordered, and soon.

This sew-along is focusing on traditional tailoring techniques. It’s an unusual project to learn tailoring on; it’s not a traditional jacket or coat, and I’m not using wool. One of my goals for the next year is to actually make a tailored blazer. Read more →

Ooh la la, my swatches are here.

So I’ve committed my way to making the Lady Grey coat, at least in the form of buying swatches. They arrived yesterday, along with the pattern.


I’m an insane collector of fashion images, color schemes, design layouts–both physical and virtual–so gathering the supplies and going through swatches is probably my favorite part of sewing. Silhouettes are one thing, designs another, and I’m even less concerned with fit than many people. Even the actual sewing itself comes behind this part. I often fall asleep at night thinking about all the possible outcomes of a project, imagining details and fabrics. (I’m a fan of beginnings. I usually “hear” my best potential poems falling asleep, which doesn’t help me much as a poet.)
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A Winter Coat, Now? A Sew-Along

Hoo ahh, it’s a hot one today. After an abnormally cool (and cool being a relative term here) summer with lots of rain in June and July, Austin finally decided to reach its proper summer temperatures (100+) this month. And this past week has been the worst.

While stores and magazines fill with fall clothes, I’ve still got another two months of hot weather. It’s like you have to have two summer wardrobes here, your first set and your second set when you are bored with all your “early” summer clothes. So I’m still at work making tees and tanks in my sewing studio, while stalking the extreme summer clearance sales at my favorite shops.

So I must be seriously crazy for thinking about sewing a winter coat. I’m at least a month behind on all my art projects, including summer sewing. But I guess I like the challenge of thinking ahead. I need more of that. This particular project is a “sew-along”, which is a group of people that sew the same pattern and share what they’re doing along the way.

This sew-along is sponsored by Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing and the pattern is the Lady Gray Jacket by Colette Patterns. Details on the sew-along are here

I’ve never done a sew-along, but I think it might help me actually finish something complex (rather than throw it on the mannequin for months on end when I can’t be bothered to finish the binding because it’s slipping around too much). It’ll also give me goals that have feedback.

Most of my life involves freelance work–writing, design, blogging. And it’s difficult if you “freelance” anything to find outside feedback. Feedback is good, it helps you know where you are in your process, refines your technique and goals and pushes you. I like working on my own but I’d also like to be a better dressmaker and sewist.

And it might be good for me to meet other sewers, even online. I’m kind of private and don’t belong to many forums or boards (other than one gardening forum and I dipped my toe into one sewing forum, but not for long) nor have I had my blog for long so I’m not used to internet dialog. But hey, this might let me get my feet wet.

p.s. There is a discount code for the pattern on the sew-along blog, which maybe (just a bit) convinced me to buy and try yet another new pattern from a non-mainstream pattern company. All of the Colette Patterns styles are so cute. I think the coat is more glam-me than some of their styles.

and p.p.s. I’ll try my hardest to post updates to the project. Another push to blog more often (saving you from my infrequent, yet epic blogs).