Four day weekend, day three

I work full time and despite frequently taking Fridays off, there just isn’t much time to quilt during the week.  That makes it hard to find blog topics when I’m trying to post 5 a week. 

So, I squeeze everything I can into the weekends because weekdays don’t really offer enough free time to be all that creative before breakfast and after the supper dishes are done. 

I was anxious this last weekend.  I’d had a really hard work week last week and at the last minute, I took Friday off after I wrapped up a huge project.  And, I couldn’t stop thinking about that interview.  You know I filled the time. 

On day three of the weekend, I got up and finished my pants that I showed a couple days ago.  But, after that, I still had the longing to sew garments.  My next garment project is a coat. 

Let’s start that by telling a little story.  All my garment making for as long as I’ve been trying to make clothes has been influenced by my Mom telling me about a winter she decided to make herself a coat to save some money.  And, by the time she’d bought all the stuff to make it, she’d spent as much as she would have if she’d gone to one of the big departments stores to buy one. 

She told me that a long time ago, so I’ve always let the cost of fabric, compared to the cost of a ready made garment, determine what I would try to make.  And, consequently, I’ve learned to collect toward projects when I find stuff on sale or at garage sale prices.  The tan jeans for example.  I could have bought a pair of tan jeans at Goodwill for $6.99.  I couldn’t buy the denim for that price.  But, I had the tan denim and I had the zipper and I had bought the metal rivet button a long time ago, so I had nothing to lose except some time.  I even used thread I already had.  So, those pants cost me nothing to make.  That’s a bargain. 

The coat is the same.  I already have the fabric.  When I decided to make the coat, I bought the toggles for it.  All I need now is a small piece of lining and some thread. 

How, you ask, did I have the fabric?  Well, my quilt mentor was making denim quilts at one time in her years of quilt making and she doesn’t mess around when it comes to supplies.  I probably was gifted a square mile of denim and similarly weighted upholstery fabric.  The plan is to eventually make quilts for the homeless, but I haven’t started that project yet.  Anyway, I’ve been plucking out of that stash for years to make things.  That’s where the pillows in the living room came from, and the denim quilt, and I’ve used a ton of soft flannel-like fabric that was backed with something heavy as quilt backs for Linus quilts, making them heavy enough that they don’t need batting. 

Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness made himself a toggle coat a couple of years ago, and that’s when I decided I wanted to make myself one too.  This isn’t my first coat, but it is the first one I’m making from a pattern.  The other one I winged and while it isn’t appropriate for every where, I still get to wear it a few times a year as a very unique and warm garment.  Peter documented his process here

Anyway, I found the same pattern he did and on Sunday, I sat in the floor and read the instructions and traced the pattern to tissue paper. 

Not everyone traces their patterns, but I like to so I can make fit adjustments to the pattern without ruining the original.  If a make a mistake, I just go back to the original and trace another copy.  But, to do a whole pattern, it takes hours, during which every family member and every animal came into the kitchen and dribbled water onto my tissue paper.  That sounds like it would be more frustrating than it was.  The real frustration was them trying to keep from doing it, which always makes things worse and not being able to laugh at the futility of their efforts.  I was literally spread over every inch of kitchen floor space there was and they couldn’t possibly even use the kitchen for hours and avoid stepping on or dripping on the patterns.  All i did was try to keep them off the original.

When Peter was making his coat, I was thinking about what I had that I could use without having to spend a small fortune on fabric.  And, I had a beautiful piece of medium weight wool in a dark olive green.  I’ve worried about what to use as a lining and then realized it’s not really a lining, it’s an underlining and I had a piece of olive green medium weight denim that I think will be great.  My deviation from the pattern is that I want to use a piece of acetate lining in the sleeves that I’ll add just before I hem them and that will keep me from having to bind all those exposed seams.  It will also make the coat easier to put on and off.


The white is the piece of denim I’m going to use for the muslin.  After all, when you have so much, why not use it.  And, the toggles are ones I found on half off sale and picked up during the planning stage. 

So, what really made this project come together for me this weekend?  Realizing that this would be so easy to make, using my Bernina 930.  I talked the other day about struggling to make clothes with my vintage machines and how the Bernina didn’t even blink an eye at eight layers of heavy denim, so with that problem solved, I was ready to start. 

Except I’m still a bit nervous about starting a project this big and that’s why I haven’t actually put scissors to fabric yet.  But, my courage is growing the more I study the pattern and the blog posts of other people that have made stylish coats and re-read Peter’s blog and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I cut the muslin this weekend and do all i can to get it put together.

Life is all about new adventures and changes.  In the words of the famous Jean Luc Picard “All engines full ahead, Number One”, so here we go.

I’ll try to be as good as Peter about posting my progress, even though I am a bit worried about getting half way through and becoming overwhelmed and putting it aside and feeling embarrassed.
Everybody have a great Friday and a great weekend.  Lane


Nena said...

Lane, putting a piece of lining across the shoulders makes a big difference as to how easily the coat will slip on and off and how nicely it rides on the body. Otherwise the coat may grab and bunch your shirts.


Linda K said...

Blanket and denim, it sounds heavy! Are you okay with that? Sounds like it's going to be very classy!

Kath said...

I don't think you'll give up halfway with us all rooting for you.

Elizabeth said...

I haven't finished one thing I've started in ages. I work on something and then put it away for a bit to work on something else that's been sitting for a while. It keeps life interesting. And sometimes a project has just got to marinate before it comes out right. So, I say, use the momentum you've got and go with it until you're finished or you've run out of interest. Either way, the time will pass, so you might as well be productive, right?

Also, I'm sure you'll do a marvelous job.

xo -E

P.S. Most of the time, you can buy something cheaper than you can buy it. Sad, but true.

Elizabeth said...

*buy something cheaper than you can make it, is what I meant to say. Too bad there's not an edit button for comments.

Rebecca Grace said...

Ooh, good luck on your coat project! And as for the "can I buy this cheaper than I can make it" quandary -- the answer depends on your skill level, and that only improves with practice. We can all buy something cheaper than we can make it at Goodwill or at Target, but if you're sewing for yourself and for your loved ones, and you have the ability to get a truly custom fit, that's NOT apples to apples with a low-end ready-to-wear garment. If you take the time to learn couture construction techniques like Peter and many other garment sewers are doing, then your finished garment is more comparable to a couture garment. My mom copied a $5,000 Vera Wang wedding gown for my sister's wedding, and spent less than $1,000 on best-quality silk fabrics and notions. We snuck our cameras into the dressing room of that Nieman Marcus bridal salon and photographed every square inch of the inside of that dress so she could use the same struckture and support for the strapless bodice and everything. My sister, who felt terrible about how she looked in the "affordable" dresses at the David's Bridal shop, felt like a supermodel on her wedding day -- but my mom would never have had the ability to make that dress if she hadn't made hundreds of other garments over the years. Buying clothes off the rack doesn't improve your garment sewing ability. Who knows whether that beautiful daughter of yours might ask YOU to sew a gown for her wedding some day?

Life is short, joy is fleeting -- follow what makes your heart sing. Sew jeans, coats, quilts, and whatever else you want, not because it's cheaper than buying it but because you want to and you can. I give you permission!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and good luck with your newest project!

lw said...

Hmmm...I can't wait to see your progress on your coat. And, as Rebecca Grace points out, you need the practice, because someday you may be sewing top quality silk for Sydney's wedding gown.