Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

and now for something completely different….


I’ve been blogging for nearly two months and looking back over the posts I’ve made in that time has  made me re-evaluate my style. Are the clothes I make boring? (well maybe). But there’s nothing in my wardrobe that says extraordinary, avant-garde, designer – WOW – set the world alight! I think what I make is SAFE: conventional clothes.

Leading up to the Christmas period I set to sewing stuff I would never have contemplated before. I rattled up a few things that I would probably never buy as RTW and pushed the comfort zone perhaps into mutton territory. Anyway, it’s only you and me and a few close friends who have seen me in this stuff, so no member of the general public was traumatised or harmed in any way……..and now for something completely different…….

Full length long haired white fur coat, patterned jersey scoop neck (sleeveless) T-shirt,
(p)leather Clovers.

The Clovers turned out just fine – though more adjustments were needed with a different fabric but not many. I omitted the pockets this time, really to save time but also to go for a smoother finish at the front.

The really good thing about the Clovers is that you can wear boots over them without the ugly and uncomfortable bunching up of fabric around the knees and they look just as good with a pair of shoes.

I avoided the invisible zip on this pair and went for a partially  exposed jeans zip – chunky metal teeth. A bit wiggly at the end because you only get to sew (p)leather once, so mistakes just have to be lived with.

 The problem with (p)leather is when you sew you puncture the fabric and every drop of the needle leaves a hole and no amount of steam pressing is going to take them out. Talking of pressing – use a pressing cloth – the last thing you want is melted (p)leather all over your ironing plate.  When sewing you can take in but never let out without a row of holes showing, so it’s crucial that you’re happy with the seams before you sew at all. Of course, you can’t pin or tack (baste) either except in the seam allowance so trying on is somewhat difficult – bit of guess work really and just hope for the best. Sew large, try on inside out and mark up the take-in with tailor’s chalk. One other thing – use a fairly large stitch length, minimum 2.5mm, as this row of puncture holes will act as a perforated edge and your trousers (pants) will just rip apart the first time you sit down!

The other problem is that the (p)leather sticks to the foot and the plate in the machine. You can buy a Teflon foot specifically for the purpose but time and £££ were an issue for me here. The Heath Robinson solution is to sandwich the fabric between two bits of greaseproof paper.  Once sewn, gently pull the paper away.

Try to sew as much as possible with the (p)leather to the inside to avoid this but hemming is the one place it can’t be dodged.

I used a jeans needle in the machine too.

The T-shirt is McCalls M6078. Two pieces, front and back, both cut on the fold – wee buns!

It has a scooped neckline and the pattern comes with a variety of finishes and options. My fabric came from Tissu and is a four-way stretch lycra.

Burda 11/2011

The coat pattern is Burda magazine 11/2011 Fur Coat. I downloaded the pattern and printed it out; matched up all the A4 sheets and cut out a 42. With faux fur you want to keep the pattern as simple as possible – this coat has a back, two fronts and one piece sleeves. Each piece has to be cut out on single fabric as the fur was so thick the scissors wouldn’t cut through. Also with fur, just cut the backing fabric not the fibres.

I made some alterations to the original – lowered the neckline and added a rolled collar with the intention of attaching fur hooks to the collar as a closure. I also lengthened the coat by 30cm (12″) for a more luxurious feel.

The black satin lining is cut from the same pieces.

As most faux furs have a knit fabric as the base there is a little stretch inherent in the fabric. I used this to insert the sleeves before the sides were sewn. No easing of sleeve caps is needed as you sew the sleeve on the flat like a shirt sleeve. Sew the shoulder seams, mark your natural shoulder length on the fabric and match up the centre sleeve with the shoulder seam and pin the armhole edges together. Gently stretch the fronts and backs to fit the arm scythe as you sew. No easing, no wrinkles, no gathers.

The verdict?

When DH saw me in this, and I quote, “You’re not going all glamourous are you?” So obviously he prefers the safe-look, or in his words, classic. However, he does like the (p)leather Clovers – as do I – so I think a second pair in tan or light brown might be just around the corner.

The coat is a no-no. It tickles my face and neck and is just too much Yeti for my liking. Added to which, I make a full-length fur coat and the temperatures here are sitting at a balmy 14 degrees Celsius, about 57 F.  Teenage son’s friend wants some furry cushions for his bedroom/pad so this is probably where the coat will end up.

The T-shirt is grand – I’ll keep it and make many more for summer time.

All in all, two out of three ain’t bad.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

10 thoughts on “and now for something completely different….

  1. Wow, you look gorgeous!

  2. Ok, I just can't decide which of the pieces I want most! Three clovers are particularly Fab!

  3. Use masking tape or paper clips to hold (p)leather pieces tog for sewing.And the coat looks FABULOUS!!! Why not make a silk scark to keep the fluffy ticklies off your neck? And don;tstress about the weather – it will get cold enough at some stage! I just found your blog via the Burda site, am about t settle in and read what you have been up to! And merry New Year, too.

  4. I love it! The pants look so amazing on you!

  5. This was such a fun post-"You're not going all glamorous, are you?" hahaaaa It's good to keep the DH guessing, do you agree? I love the Clovers, and the coat. I can't wear pieces that long or dramatic as I am too short. Have a great New Year.

  6. There was talk on the news this evening about a 'finger' being found years ago in the Andes or somewhere and it has been stored at the British Museum ever since. Everyone thought it belonged to a Yeti. After DNA testing it was discovered to be a human finger after all. But we all know were the Yeti really is – hanging in my utility room!Thanks for the encouraging comments.

  7. I thought this post was funny too – I love the leather pants and top – think I would find the Yeti a little ticklish too ha ha.You know I sometimes think it is always worth putting the effort into making some safe basics that you can get lots of wear out of especially if you use a nice fabric. After all, you don't want to put all the effort into making something that you would only wear once and never again (unless you don't mind doing that of course).Happy new Year

  8. Gee, thanks for placing that Monty Python song firmly in my brain! Yesterday and today, in google reader! I'm enjoying your awesome outfit, along with the music in my head.

  9. Pingback: End of Years | corecouture

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