Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the tag “Easy Sewing”

Cozy Fall Jacket

Good grief, time has really flown by!! I’m in law school full time, while also running my business full time, and that has left precious little for any other projects or even keeping in touch with the outside world!

However, in early October I went to the LA Textile Show and swooned over these incredible fabrics from Italy that blend faux fur and wool together in one fabric. I just had to have some!! Well, on Black Friday they finally came in, and I just had to make a cozy little jacket for our extended fall weather to celebrate!

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I used 1 panel of  this new Italian wool-and-fur fabric for the body ($42/panel), plus 1 yard of this quilted faux leather-and-wool fabric for the sleeves ($45/yard). The neckline is finished with 2 yards of the gray snakeskin piping and the black jersey seam binding.  The strip of fur along the selvedge is there naturally (I just had to neaten it up a bit – it’s not perfectly even).

I used Burda pattern 8332 as the base and eliminated the side seams and front darts, so the ONLY seams on this jacket are the shoulders and armscyes!!

Total time: 2-3 hours. Total material cost: $101. Finished look: worth at least $250!!

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The Knit Challenge

Before I tell you about the knit challenge, I have to share this story with you.  Today I went to one of my sewing groups, and a member I barely knew and had no real previous interaction with handed me the sweetest card she’s tried to mail me – congratulating me on my Fulbright.  It was so incredibly adorably sweet!!!  Talk about Giving Warmth!!
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On to the knit story… that same sewing group just had a knit challenge.  A couple of months ago, members were instructed to bring a piece of knit fabric – either one piece that was 2 yards long or 2 pieces that were each one yard long.  They were anonymously redistributed and members had until today to make something. Though I was happy with the fabric I got, I couldn’t find any design I liked, and so the day before it was due (of course), I bit the bullet and picked a pattern I thought might work…. (Mind you, I was the co-presenter and one of the more expert knit sewists in the group, so I had a certain standard expected of me… GULP!).

Here’s the fabric I received, it’s from JoAnn Fabrics, their Nicole Miller line.  A nice weight, soft hand, I’m guessing a cotton blend.

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My weight keeps fluctuating right now, so I prefer drapey tunics.  I chose McCall’s 7437, view B (the one the model is wearing), from my stash:

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I decided to actually make the pattern as shown (for me this is shockingly irregular, I did the same thing last week with the gray fleece cocoon kimono trimmed in pink plaid – I must be getting sick or something! I never make patterns!) – though without the fringe.  I thought the fabric print was too busy to make the whole garment out of it (plus, I’ve never been able to make a whole garment out of just one fabric…), so I paired it with a magenta slinky knit from my stash.  I wasn’t happy with the poor design for the hemming, so I redid it and just bound the bottom hem and back neck in the black jersey seam-binding from my shop (find it HERE).  I didn’t like how it hung without sleeves, but once the sleeves were in, it was kind of cute.  I wanted to break up the color block a little more, so I choose to make the sleeves in solid black – I used the jersey crepe from the shop (HERE), and since I’d banded the shirt body with the black jersey trim, I decided to finish off the magenta colorway and band the sleeves with it.  All in all, I’m fairly happy with how it came out, though obviously the shoulders need to be raised.

What do you think?  Have you sewn with knits before?  Want to try our challenge 😉  ?

Cocoon Kimono

I’m not sure what to call this jacket – it has kimono sleeves and a cocoon bolero shape, and Burda calls it a cardigan, though it doesn’t fit my notion of a cardigan (which to me is more shaped, though that isn’t the definition).

Anyways, I wanted an easy project that would go together smoothly (it’s been a rough week!), so I just grabbed Burda pattern 8027:

I chose fleece for the weight, ease, and no fraying – and I realized that because of my former custom sewing business, I have tons of fleece – in patterns and designs I wouldn’t wear!!  Anyone want to swap or buy a bunch of children’s fleeces in exchange for adult designs?!

ANYHOO… I barely had enough gray for the body, and some plaid for the border – which I cut on the bias.  In some places, I was actually short a hair, but it worked out ok.  The problem with fleece is that it stretches, so when I needed to ease the band around the jacket body in, it did fit nicely, but now it puckers very slightly in places.  Not enough for a non-sewist to notice, but enough that I will probably go back and sew some kind of trim right over the line where the plaid band meets the gray body.  I think it looks ok, it fits fine, and for once I don’t immediately hate it 😉  Oh, I may also put a single clasp on the front at the bust line. I skimped on fabric and made a size 18 with about 2 yards of fabric (1 of each), and made the whole thing – start to finish – in one evening.  Because of the curving shape, I did not even try to get the plaid to come out perfectly at the center back, and I think it’s ok.

What do you think?  Have you ever made this jacket?

Bog Coat

Some years ago, I saw this stunning tutorial in Threads Magazine for a “Bog Coat” (See the Tutorials heading).  Well,  I’d been making similar jackets of sequined velvet for ages, but I fell in love with one of the particular samples they showed, which seemed only slightly more elaborate than what I’d been making:

bog coat 1

Much to my dismay, their tutorial didn’t really explain how to make this coat, it really just explained the coat on the right and its variances – which I didn’t like at all:

bog coat 2

Searching for another quick, easy, dramatic project, I stumbled on this image again, and decided to create the red coat even if I had to figure it all out from scratch myself.

I had these two beautifully complementary fabrics – both with just exactly enough yardage! A floral cotton, and a striped jacquard.

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MATERIALS:

  • You’ll need about 1 yard for the primary fabric (in this case, the floral).
  • If you plan to line it, you’ll need the same amount for the lining. (I used a deep brushed teal twill from my shop from Worth NY).
  • Trims – personal choice (I used a yard of the striped fabric to make bias strips for the cuffs).
  • Fabric for ties – I used 2 yards of gray silk charmeuse from the shop.
  • Thread to match, pins, other standard sewing supplies.

INSTRUCTIONS

It was a little complicated to figure out, and I did my best to make the directions clear and easy – please let me know if you get stuck somewhere!! On the upside, I completed this whole coat – start to finish – in half a day, and that was without having convenient instructions and having to run up and down the stairs all day because the iron and thread colors were on the second floor, and I was sewing in the basement….

Step 1: Decide on how long you want your sleeves to be – I just used the full width of the fabric, in this case about 54″, and how wide you want your sleeves to be – I made a loop with the tape measure, stuck my arm inside it and adjusted it until it felt ‘right’.  Very conveniently, this turned out to be 20″, which was so close to the length of my fabric, I just went with the fabric as is.

 

Step 2: Fold your fabric in half, selvedge to selvedge.  Fold it in half again, mark that second centerfold point and unfold that fold – leaving the first fold in place.  Draw a straight line 2 or 2.5″ (I used 2″) from the center fold to slightly below the marked center point.  Free-hand draw a graceful quarter arch from the 2″ line to the center fold – this will be the part where your neck goes.  Cut along the line – you’ve now created your center opening!

bog coat drawing 4

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Step 3: Unfold, and fold in half the other way – RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.

bog coat drawing 1

Step 4: Sew from the selvedge in along that bottom open edge.  It takes a little trial and error to find how much you need to sew – what is comfortable for you.  For me, a 12.5″ seam worked really well (I’m a size 18).

bog coat drawing 2

Step 5: * OPTIONAL* If you are full lining the garment, duplicate all of the above steps with the lining fabric, making sure you use the same measurements you used for the primary fabric.

Step 6: With right sides together, sew around the necklines (I pinked these edges to reduce bulk and help it curve nicely), and sew the bottoms together – the parts that weren’t part of the 12.5″.  This will be a little squirrely to line up and you’ll end up with all these points converging on one spot, but take a little time to pin and sew carefully, and this is really way easier than you think.

You still need to insert the ties, which is a step that properly goes in here, but I’m putting it in later so you can try on and adjust the garment first – since really they are the next-to-last step.

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Step 7: The only parts NOT sew together should be the cuffs.  Turn the garment right-side out through the cuffs and nest them properly (lining inside fashion fabric).  Try on your jacket – this is your last chance to make any adjustments and changes. (Have I mentioned how much I suck at selfies?) If you like it, press everything.

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Step 8: TIES! Inspired by the photo of the original jacket, I wanted big full ties.  I looked at my jacket, and decided I wanted them to be no more than 3″ wide where they attached to the jacket, but then they should flare out to 6″ at the ends.  I also wanted them long enough to wrap around my body and tie in a huge bow, with plenty of trailing ends. I used the tape measure and decided that my ties should therefore be 75″ long with seam allowance.  I happened to have a piece of gray silk charmeuse that complemented this and was 77″ long – close enough.  I liked the idea of using the silk because that would drape and tie much more nicely than the cotton, twill, or stripe jacquard.  Stupidly, when I laid out my silk, I completely forgot to double it (for folding it in half and having 2 nice sides), so I cut a straight strip of 10″ wide (the math doesn’t even make sense for not folding, I have no excuse)…. and rather than waste the silk, decided to just go with that and cut a second strip, also 10″ wide. Don’t make the same mistake I did – but if you do, it came out ok, so it’s Good Enough (more on that at the end).

Folded the strip right sides together, pinned it (silk is slippery!), and straight stitch all the way down using a narrow stitch (2.5 – I usually sew everything at 3.5, so for me, this is a huge leap. But I wasn’t going to serge the interior seam, so wanted to make sure the silk didn’t start fraying.) I left one end open (to turn), and sewed the other end at an angle (just eyeballed an angle that looked nice.)  Do the second strip.  Carefully press your ties.

My ties were now 4.5″ wide (10″ fold in half with a 1/4″ seam allowance), so I gathered the open end.  I very carefully went in between the still-open cuffs and found the bottom center front corners of the jacket (be very careful you have the front edge, not the bottom edge – once you get inside, everything gets turned around! Also be careful that your ties are on the outside of the jacket, backed into the hole – not inside out 😉  ).  I wanted my ties right at the very bottom, so I measured up from the bottom stitch line 2.5″ and ripped that open.  I inserted the open end of the tie – being careful to orient the stitched seam toward the bottom – and used the gathering stitches to gather it until it fit nicely into the 2.5″ hole.  I adjusted the gathers to be even, then stitched the hole closed. Using that narrow 2.5″ stitch, I sewed up and down several times, making sure it was VERY securely attached.

Step 9: Turn everything back right-side out, and baste your cuffs together, aligning the bottom seams.  Then finish to taste.  You can fold them over and top stitch, you can bind the edge with a fancy trim, you can use a decorative serger stitch, etc.  I took a 5″ bias strip of the striped jacquard, pressed it in half, sewed it on to the outside, used a long basting stitch to sew the same seam allowance on the other side (not sewing it TO anything), pressed it in along the basting line, removed the basting stitches, carefully pinned the folded edge in place along the inside of the cuff, and did stitch-in-the-ditch on the front side (using a metallic gold top thread, and a black bobbin thread) to catch and fasten the back half of the strip.IMAG5817

(The lining is TEAL – not purple!!!  Stupid cell phone camera…)

Presenting my finished product (ignore the wrist brace):

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A final word on this tutorial, and my projects in general:  You may have noticed (ahem) that there is an awful lot of “about 10 inches”, and “roughly…” and “oops, I measured wrong…”  I advocate the philosophy of Good Enough.  Shoddy, poor-quality work is not an accepted part of Good Enough, but Good Enough is about recognizing that there some things that matter and some things that don’t really matter.  No one but me – and you because I told you – know that the ties were supposed to be a different size.  They don’t affect the finished product in any meaningful way.  All too often, we hear this chorus of perfection – from the Martha Stewarts of the world, to the super-strict sewing teacher that made you cry when your points weren’t perfectly aligned, to the endless demands from society that we somehow be Perfect Mother, Perfect Wives, Perfect Daughters, and Perfect Housekeepers (even if we have a full-time career) with Perfect Bodies.  I say ENOUGH.  It’s ok if the house is not immaculate, if your quilt points don’t perfectly match, if you never lost the pregnancy weight from the baby that’s now in college, if you fed the kids non-organic hot dogs for third dinner in a row because you’re exhausted and they’ll at least eat that without a fight.

My projects encourage you to aim for Good Enough – not perfection (highly overrated!).  For more information, please see the Good Enough tab at the top of the page.

(General rules – you may share this project and the Good Enough idea – but please be sure to properly credit me, and share it by linking back to this page – not just copying and pasting.  I know you respect the amount of effort that goes into developing interesting content for you! )

 

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