green car coat to ‘racing green’ coat with a hood

……… …………this is the jacket that started it all and now that I have finally started working on it one year later, I am wondering how I picked up such an odd one!  It was 2euro, the colour of my old school uniform and it’s like wearing 1983 – you may not be able to see it clearly, but there is a tab space for missing epaulets, and some strange panel at the back, the buttons are a pewter shade, the wool quality is gorgeous..

After the issues with the last coat, I thought that perhaps I should make a pattern for what I had rather than making a pattern fit to the coat and it seemed like a good plan, especially as in the taking apart, I had ripped part of the front…. (one way to establish grain – not), so I darned it and thought I could hide it in a neck dart …..maybe…..(and it turned out maybe not).  The coat length is what my aunt calls a  ‘car coat’.  which I think refers to above the knee length – but longer than a blazer.  

I drafted a overgarment block, and then made a raglan block, and made a toile that was far too fitted, so I drafted another bodice block, and sleeve,  and gave it extra ease, and there wasn’t enough fabric in the panels using this one.  So then I went a made a deep raglan from the fitted block by the time it came to making the toile, I didn’t know if I wanted it to fit or not as (a) the pattern drafting was getting cruder each time and (b) every-time I smooth the fabric to put pattern pieces on the green wool – it was like a precursor to laying out snooker balls (and of course once you get an idea like that in your head, its hard to remove it)

The deep raglan toile had too much room at sleeve front and back so pattern re done, toile/lining recut, and coat cut. The lining/toile fabric is a sheet.  The coat made up quick enough considering I was a few days messing with drafting.  The pattern is a bit basic and I will use it again, but I will refine a few markers, especially the centre front ones as they are incorrect for sure…..  

The pockets are set in seam, the original coat has welted pockets in the same location, and I figured easier in the re-cut to put in seam.   I tried some top stitch across the pocket seams but it looked a bit odd so I took it out.

I had also thought of adding two toggles or decorative clasps but when it was sewn, I went off the idea, however, there was a buttonhole from the old jacket that ended up in the mix.  I knew it was there and left it there so to get maximum cut – and thinking it may end up in a seam finish (it didnt) as I kept as big an overlap as I could, so I left it.  I have secured and darned it the hole and will figure something in time to conceal it better.    I left the sleeves ‘bracelet’ length.  It was the longest I could get them with small cuff and 2cm hem (the only other spare fabric pieces left were the strange back panels which I needed and collar – wrong grain direction for cuff).  

The back panels were then used to make a hood, which I thought would be even better if it was detachable, and thought it may look better also lined in some nice leftover lining from last summers green coat. 

I have never drafted (or made) a hood before.  I have pattern instruction from fashion college (I never use those notes as they are in inches, although I do like my notes as I drafted all my pattern notes to scale!), and I used that with Helen Armstrong Jones (rarely draft from this – inches again), and did a mix of both.  I am really pleased with the hood, apart from it being immensely practical, it also sits well on jacket and due to fabric restrictions I did a small curve to the front hood which really holds it in place on my head, the hood facing was made from a collar which had a bias to it and not the correct grain, but it was the only piece of fabric left so it was used (well technically 3 pieces left, 2 pocket flaps and that strange button piece at neck in first photo!)

I will decide on what do about the ex buttonhole at the top later, I may just put a button on it to cover it – currently the scarf covers it fine and the hood conceals it well.    The photos are blurry towards the end, as I dropped the camera – twice. 

I was so very pleased with the jacket and wore it straight away and since, and the hood works very well indeed – tested soon after wearing thanks to the predictable Irish rain, the jacket/coat is a light weight and perfect for this time of year, and well into summer. This is now looking like the basis for the red coat remake.  I have also ceased to think of the colour as relating to my school uniform or snooker tables but prefer to compare to jaguar racing green! – 


stripy tee – with crochet panel

gosh – these 1euro buys……. currently I am on a self-imposed charity shop buy ban (unless its so so essential – are coats essential?)  as I have to work through what I have!  This tee shirt was bought as I wanted to try out a crochet panel on a tee shirt which is pretty much what I did.  Crochet tends not to photograph easily, as the background colour (mannequin) tends to glow through!

refashion upcycle tee shirt crochet panel

I cut the front out, and had some circle motifs from a project some time back that I was going to use, but when it applying them, I had gone off the idea of the circles as 6 were slightly too long for t, and 4 too short.  I decided to make a panel instead.

upcycle tee shirt crochet panel

So after cutting the front, I was to do a blanket stitch, but the jersey was a bit mobile, so I machined a hem line, and then did the blanket stitch in button thread.  I then single crocheted (or double in uk terminology) around the edge.  I was to work into these crochet stitches but at this stage I had changed my mind about using the motifs, and crocheted a panel instead as it would also be easier as it would be even both sides.  If I was crocheting up the tee shirt, I would have used my side stitches.

The nice bit about crochet is it is so portable and a good few rows were done in the hairdressers!  I ended up hand-sewing the panel on as when I crocheted it in, it looked a bit lumpy.

The pattern is 
quite simple.  The fillet stitch  could also be threaded with colour ribbon, or the panel could be made in two halves with extra rows of single (uk doubles) at the centre for buttons and button holes to make a cardigan out of a sweater.

favourite colours and holbein

Favourite colours have been on my mind these last few months, from a lovely comment left by Bobbi and also the great chat last month about favourite colours with my friends daughter Amina.  I listed off mine, and she listed hers.  as being 3 years old,  hers predictably were pink and purple but during our chat she acknowledged some other colours weren’t so bad either and a few more got added to her list.  (both of us fully agreed on chips being a favourite food – conversations with the under 4s are wonderfully uncomplicated).

Part of all core studies in art college is colour studies and its pretty generic – different colour wheels and varying versions of the same still life, and generally done with about 3-6 tubes of paint.  One of the still-lifes was executed in ‘favourite colours’ and it was definitely the most interesting one for me and now that I am sewing again, I find I am picking up and sewing these colours.  I was curious to find the colour project notes (I couldn’t find it all but found bits of colour wheels) so I thought I would mix them again – I remembered them easily enough as I remember the still life I painted in them, and also that they related to a piece of fabric (a scrap I still have that) I had been sewing at the time.  

As I was mixing, the only trickiest one was a pale yellow pink peach, I couldn’t fully remember that exactly (and was a surprised that such a specific came back to me) and in general they began to remind me of the Holbein Palette, and that the tones are all very earthy and organic.

  And speaking of Holbein, I have a doodle below based on Holbein I did as a daily drawing (or doodle) challenge some years ago, and still quite like it!

I digress, the reason I put it this all down, is that I was thinking how I got into some buying habits in the last number of years that related less and less to what I essentially liked, but were based on what was in the shops, and what is in the shops are the results of fashion/trend/ and colour forecasters – and my wardrobe was beginning to accumulate a lot of grey and charcoal, and possibly looking a bit downbeat as a result. I don’t know if anyone else has gotten caught in this predicament?  

My colour palette has also become useful in choosing what I buy as I am a bit more focused so my charity shop buying criteria is based on

The colour
The fabric (quality, weight and content)
The seams (less the better)
The price (in general, I like the markdowns as I like to think that this is the stuff no-one else wants so a bit more of a challenge)

I am also looking at my own wardrobe doing a bit of an edit and think my own colours are more appropriate to me and mix in with each other easily.  However, trying to get it all down to 33 pieces……………..(into mind blog has rather focused me)……………. well there’s a real challenge!

Butterick 3652 restyle a coat to (yet) another coat

butterick 3652 remake upstyle refashion coat
So ……………..another coat – I got it about 2 months ago (yes, possibly an coat addiction here) , and still amazed these coats are so cheap, this coat was was 3euro, 50%wool 25%lambswool, and 25% cashmere and a good neutral colour, whats not to like  (nobody wanted to buy it for 20 so they reduced it to 10 and then to 3)   Strangely enough the more ‘fashionable’ coats with lesser quality fabric sell quicker, and for more……the mind can only wonder.

I decided to try this butterick pattern as I could go with the cut of the raglan sleeve, but as the coat was a size 10 UK I may have just enough fabric (not nearly enough it turned out) .  I had no instruction for the pattern, but at the last minute, and as a just-in-case, I put a post on the we-sew-retro FB page, and the very kind Samantha photographed a set of instructions and posted them which was a very lucky break as this coat got the better of me.  I seemed to have constant love or loathe moments all through the making-up. 

refashion a coat

The Cutting

 I usually work with a few givens, ie centre front and centre back are usually on grain (but will deviate for back vent and collar etc) so I usually lay out and mark, and then find a piece I can do a double check on (ie rip) and square out from that and double check.  I wasn’t happy with one of the backs after doing some pulls on the centre back line as it seemed to have a bit of give, so after marking I did a grain check near hemline….. and the grain was off….. one back was fine and the other went slightly off but over the course of the length of the coat this meant it was off by about an inch at hem.  This threw me as I didn’t know who was wrong, and if it was really off and that it shouldn’t be…. I went with my grain test but was a lot perplexed (I was even imagining all the scenarios of what could have happened years ago to put the cut out….) 

So when I went to cut the sleeves – there was no way I could get the cut and the grain…….. so I didn’t.  I went with the grain of the previous sleeves and hoped for the best.   I could have gone with 3/4 sleeves but that would have given an odd balance to the coat and as it was it looked like a small cuff would happen (its a half size pattern and if I was 5’3″ the sleeve would have just about fitted).  I was so determined to make up the pattern, I steamed ahead and lowered expectations.

butterick 3652 remake upstyle refashion coat

The Sewing

The fabric is gorgeous, really, and as usual, wool is relatively easy to sew.  I put in the buttonholes first and thought I would try Ann Ladbuy method of piped buttonholes – I have been watching Clothes that Count on bbc archive , as she starts in the middle of the welt, and I liked how they turned out.  As I had no buttons picked, and the original coat buttons were a bit ordinary, I thought I would cover some (and as luck would have it, the button tin had a pack of them I must have picked up in a bargain bin), I covered them and did a quick chain stitch to ‘lift’ them.

The facings gave the worst problems as I had not enough fabric and they were patched together and caused the front of it to kick out,   I then remembered there was fabric in the belt, so made the facings in two parts, and they seem to work better.  The lining was reused but its not great, as there were some tear marks in it, and its a compromised cut, however, for the moment I will not buy any.

The Sleeves –When the coat is on the mannequin, the off grain is pretty or not-so-pretty obvious

The patch pocket marks are barely noticable – but do show in the photo so just as well they are balanced!

The pattern

I would highly recommend making this pattern, seriously, its lovely.  If I had the chance or could realistically justify, I would make it again, it would be a lovely coat for a summer wedding or a formal/semi-formal event (the curtain in my workroom is an old length of cream wool coating and I was eyeing it up towards the end of the sew!)   The hang of the coat is gorgeous, its so simple and I think slimming and I even feel taller when I put it on.  The coat having only two buttons adds to the elegant look,, but makes it less practical as a day-to-day coat. 

butterick 3652 remake upstyle refashion coat

So will I wear it……

Not too sure.  For the moment the hem is tacked and the lining sewn in place only at the neckline – and I can alway size it down to a smaller item.  I started on another coat remake for the end of the month and lessons learned from making this coat are already paying off!  I am also due to remake a red coat (2euro – unreal)  in a few months time and this red coat will be my new winter coat. I adore the cut of this butterick pattern, so I may take elements of this coat for the red coat.  I am thinking the red coat will be restyled, as opposed to remade, as I will keep the buttoning detail in the red as well as the pocket location (but not pocket style), and the raglan sleeve, but for now,  only April sewing beckons!

Update 15/03 – when I look at the coat photographs now, the sleeves are too long and the balance is off – I think 3/4 sleeves could have worked better with the shortened hem? or the coat taken right up to be a jacket?  already considering options on remaking……………. However, the short coat I am working on now is looking pretty good….

marfy blouse – uaine on the bias

This poor skirt was sitting on the euro rail last year – I got it as I like green, and its a viscose linen.  As a bias skirt – I wouldn’t be able to wear it, bias enhances any potential curve (I think bias skirts are to be avoided at all costs  for pear-me ……) but as a top it could work out quite well indeed – I probably should have ironed the skirt before photographing as the creases do it no favours.  

refashion skirt to top restyle upcycle

I had come across a few versions of this marfy top online, and I was also curious about their patterns as there was a discussion on them somewhere on fb – so as this pattern was free, it was one way to find out.  I cut for a size 44 and did french seams.  I double checked on seam allowances before cut, and there are none so I added 1.5 all round, and as there would be no hem allowance, I decided to use the frill as the hem (which turned out to be an excellent decision).  

I ironed a crease at the centre front and centre back of skirt pieces to get the true bias, before laying the pattern over each.  In the pattern layout photo, the pattern is laid on the fold and then the side seam hem edge is at the skirt frill join on both, so that worked as my ‘marker’ or notch when I went to sew, I then marked 1.5cm seam allowances at the sides, armholes, and neck.   I put a small facing on the back for the opening, and then sewed the top, gathered the front and then bound the edges.  I decided not to use the neck band as I had seen one version without and liked that, and when I went to cut I may not have had sufficient fabric for the bands (judging from what was left over).  The top was quick enough to run up, and probably quicker for anyone else as I tend to hand hem bindings (my machining of them is rough at best), but in all I think it was 2 or 3 hours (I took apart a dress in-between).

upcycle skirt to top

I am incredibly delighted with the top.  This marfy pattern was easy to use but I don’t know how true this is for their other patterns as they seem to give limited instruction from what I gather on their site – but then again, early vintage patterns don’t give too many clues at the best of times either!.  

refashion skirt to top

Uaine (wen-ya), is an old Irish word for green – it is specific to something being coloured green as opposed to naturally green, and this month is going to be a Uaine month!  In January I did a bit of a rethink of what I was at with all this sewing and cutting, – and I am still without a master plan but now have a modus operandi!!!!  I had to find some focus, as I seemed to have lots of ideas, and projects started all over the house.  So now I am doing projects by the month and by general colour or theme as when I went through everything it turned out that there is currently enough charity shop buys to see me to the next 5 months of making! (its far too easy when things are 1 and 2 euro)  So I divided them into colour and drew up some plans for each, and also catalogued my small stash, so now I am only working a month at a time to stop me flitting from project to project, and have a bag with the next 4, but no more…………….