Please visit me over at www.ooobop.com
And so I present the focus of all my dreams since first bidding all my hard-earned
pennies pounds on vintage Butterick 547. It’s taken nearly seven months to realise the nagging vision that was persistent even throughout my busiest months.
At least 2 of the 7 months, were taken up with searching for the ideal fabric. Quite incredible seeing as I’m a stone’s throw from the Goldhawk Road. I watched London folk on a daily basis, as they paraded their neutral tones around town, and that was inspiration enough to fuel a rebellious approach and lead me to an online supplier of ‘quality coating fabric’ – Fabric Dreams. Of all the samples I requested (which were incidentally free of charge and free of postage!) this non-wool, fabric was my favourite. I confused myself with this choice at first believing a quality coat must be in wool. But I went with gut and gut came good!
The hardest bit about the construction was having enough space to lay out the pieces. They were huge. I knew I was going to have to lob off the usual 4 inches from the bottom but I wanted to construct the original length in case I had a later moment of maxi-madness!
This coat was seriously made in hourly bursts. If I had no hours left at the end of the day, sleep was stolen. I could not have done it any other way. Full time freelanceness which often runs into the evenings, with school runs and domestic chores to boot, means little or no time to sew. But UK weather waits for no seamstress and I was seriously going to freeze my butt off unless I got a wriggle on. Good enough motivation wouldn’t you say?!
The only issue with working in hundreds of little shifts is that I probably spend as much time getting stuff out and putting it away as I do on actual sewing time. But hey ho. Got there in the end. I really must stop dreaming about one of the children’s bedrooms being a sewing room. Terrible mother!
I interrupt this post to big up my amazing and wonderful bestest friend and boyf in the whole world, Daniel. I swear this coat wouldn’t look half as good if it wasn’t for his amazing photography skillz! I owe him so many waistcoats, it’s untrue!!
The other great thing about him being chief Ooobop photographer, is that we get to mooch around London together finding lovely locations. Today was mostly the British Museum. Feel like a bit of a fraud for not actually looking at one single exhibit. But we did have a cultural day at the V&A yesterday, honest guv!
The coat is made of eight panels which create such a lovely shape. There was stacks of ease and I think I could have pinched out a bit more but I like how it feels and I wouldn’t want to feel restricted in it at all. Interestingly enough, even though the ‘skirt’ is not a circle, letting it hang overnight, the hemline dropped in the same way. A lengthy process to level up the hem, and check it at least 5 times before cutting, was quite painful but worth it.
Lining this coat was quite a chore. Even though I chose a real quality, strong, gold lining, it frayed like Billy-O. So I serged every open seam. Because I can. Because I now have an overlocker BTW!! But because I am a newbie overlockerist I got all smug and complacent with the speed and completely hacked through the side-back panel. I swore a bit. But didn’t have time for a proper sulk. I’d come far too far enough down the line to be crying over torn lining. Luckily for my sanity, I had over-bought said gold lining by a metre and a half and so I cut another piece, dutifully unpicked the ruined one and half an hour or so later it was as if nothing had happened!
An entire evening and a morning was spent entirely hand-sewing in the lining with tiny stitches. Around the armholes, down the side seams, all around the facings and neckline and of course the hems. What joy!
But what warmth!
I’ve stubbonly been walking around in my draughty Vogue jacket, lovely as it is, refusing to buy a coat, lest it meant I would never finish this one. But now I have. And boy, it feels good to be warm. Bring on the snow!
Of course the warmth may not have been totally down to the coat. Mr O insisted this was a great photo of me having a cheeky snifter! He’s such a bad influence.
A little wander into Covent Garden was lovely on such a bright winter’s day. This coat is great for twirling in too!
Thank you all for your support and patience throughout my first coat-making venture. It feels amazing to be wearing something so functional, yet so strikingly original and properly fitted. I won’t divulge cost of this project as it has scared the living pants off me but I can honestly say it was worth every single
And so, six months after my gruelling battle to win this beauty of a pattern, work has begun, in earnest. When I was bidding the for pattern, I had the finished coat, clearly in mind and so to be faced with 19 pattern pieces and the usual vague set of instructions, the fear set in.
I’ve made a jacket or two, I’ve even tackled the wicked welts. So what was I afraid of? Doing it justice, I think. If I was going to go to the bother of making a coat – not just any old coat, but the coat of my nightly dreams since battle was won – I needed the right fit, the right fabric, the finest construction, let alone the neatest bound buttonholes. (Something I hadn’t yet conquered !)
I live near fabric heaven, The Goldhawk Road. And so finding the right fabric should have been easy, right? Easy enough when your expectations aren’t stationed on the moon! I searched high and low and eventually found this amazingly eccentric fabric, online at ‘Fabric Dreams‘. Quite apt, really! I initially had tangerine wool in mind so I ordered a few different free samples and then sat under the letterbox for all of 4 days!
When they did arrive, it was a no-brainer. Even though the fabulous, firey fabric was 100% not wool (and not just tangerine, but an entire fruitbowl of colours) and the others were, it screamed at me to be given a chance and so I agreed to put it centre stage. After all, if I was ever going to go to the bother of making a coat, there’s no way I wanted it to go unnoticed, oh no!
I even made a toile. Just the body section. And this confirmed my need to loose some circumference. I had my suspicions that the coat would be a little big, and it was, but was worried I’d loose the nipped in shape if I took it in at the top and let it out at the waist (the usual Ooobop sausage-shape adjustment!). So with some careful measuring, re-measuring, a little panicking and some more measuring, I took out half an inch, vertically, all the way down, from each of the front and back pieces. So as not to affect the silhouette of the design. Incidentally, like a good girl, I had pre-traced all the pieces!
And then to cut the real fabric. Ooooo the suspense, the fear, the excitement! The pieces are massive. I know I will eventually chop off about 6 inches but I wanted to start long so I could make that decision later. But that did mean I had to cut out on the floor. My kitchen table just ain’t big enough! And that, in turn, meant I had to wash the floor… doh! Always something to hamper a plan! Still took three roll outs of the fabric and continual shooing of cats.
Honestly, why do they insist on laying where I’m cutting? It’s not like there’s no other piles of fabric in the house!
An hour and a pair of stiff legs later, I had a wonderful pile of cut pieces. It’s quite tricky to cut though the ‘corded’ texture but it doesn’t fray.
Yesterday I sewed the main body sections and oooed and arrred as I steamed those seams open. For all it’s 100% not woolness, it presses beautifully. And I haven’t had to clip any curves either.
It was getting late last night and I did hesitate to start on the bound buttonholes but knew my dreams would be sweeter if I at least had a go. So I tried a few tester ones on some scrap fabric using the instructions on the pattern sheet. They were rubbish! So I went to YouTube to find someone who’d show me how. They were rubbish too! And then I remembered Karen’s fabulous Ebook download which proved to be the perfect method and I’d even go as far as saying I loved doing them!
Practising those stood me in good stead for making the welt pockets too!
I pondered for ages, wondering what kind of collar I should have. Should it be the big dramatic scalloped one? One of the self same fabric to keep it simple or a little furry shawl collar? I opted for the latter, after going round in circles. Mostly in the shower!
Faux fur is fast running out in the Goldhawk Road. The good stuff anyway. I’m told by reliable sources that no more will be ordered as summer stock will soon be on it’s way! So I was well chuffed to find this short pile, soft-as-you-like, faux fur. Works a treat.
Though I’ve made fantastic headway this weekend, there is still a lot of work to be done. The sleeves, the length, the hem, the lining and the facing behind the buttonholes. But it will be worth it I’m sure. I can feel those sub zeros honing in over the next few weeks but hey, bring ’em on. I’m going to be snug as some bugs!
‘Well about bloomin’ time!’ I hear you say… again! After all those reviews, all those bigging-up posts harping on about what I fully intended to make, you’d think I’d have rustled up at least one of those Burda goodies by now.
Well here it is. Care of Burdastyle Magazine, May 2013 issue, the drawstring top.
Fashioned from a lovely piece of chiffon that was hanging around after the fabric swap at Rachel’s meet up back in April. Incidentally, if anyone can put their hands up as to whom was the kind donor I would be so happy to know.
I had no idea it was destined for this top but I was secretly hoping that whatever I made, it was going to incorporate a flower placement, both front and back. And guess what? It does!
I’ve been tinkering with all sorts of pattern adjustments recently, including an FBA. Not for me, you understand. Which is why it’s far more exciting. I am making a prom dress for my friend’s gorgeous daughter. But more news about that in a couple of weeks. The dress is a big secret until her big day!
Anyway, I digress. Back to the top. Well, actually there is nothing much more to add, other than I figured out how to cut chiffon in a straight line after I had cut it on the wonk! I thought I was being clever by pulling a thread at the hem to make sure I hemmed it even. But actually I’d cut it completely on the wonk and the whole thing ended up being about 2 inches shorter than planned as a result
I used a rolled hem… not by using my rubbish rolled hem foot… but by hand. It was a slow but sure process but it worked just fine.
The pieces consist of a front and a back, seamed only at the sides, with a drawstring around the neck. The raglan armholes are rather large – much larger than the photographs show – and you will therefore require a modesty garment underneath unless you reduce them beforehand.
This is how it appears in the mag:
I made it in a panic when I thought I was running out of Me-Made-May garments but never actually got round to wearing it because of this stupid pretend summer we are having. But it was perfect for today’s Father’s day date at Café Rouge and even got the seal of approval from my eldest daughter…Win!
Now, back to that prom dress…
So here we are. The final days of Me Made May ’13! I feel quite sad in a way. But relieved. And accomplished. And enlightened. So thank you SoZo for setting this brilliant challenge. I didn’t realize quite what a knock on effect it would have. Or how it would make me feel. I wholly recommend this challenge to anyone who has yet to take the plunge.
I really didn’t think I would make it to the end of the month. For sure there were repeats and some days no photo evidence at all. In reality, taking a photo of yourself every day is really difficult. Easy at first with all the initial enthusiasm for the challenge but then harder each day as the sun disappears, the hubby sets of earlier for work and the outfits get more tight-fitting the older they are!
But the journey was worth it. It was fantastic to focus each day on each hand made garment and realise where I’ve come from and what I’ve arrived at. Confirmation on what I’ve learned and achieved was invaluable. I don’t have time to stop and think properly about most things these days, especially what I’m going to wear on any particular day. So this was a fantastic excuse for self-indulged focussing, on past experience as well as some future plans. Oh yes, of course the flip side of the coin has meant my project list has increased ten-fold. But hey that list always makes for sweet dreams, if nothing else!
So to wrap up… the final days of Me Made May ’13.
DAY 22: Silk touch jersey cowl top and wool pencil skirt
Neither of these are blogged, I made them so long ago. But the cowl top is made from a free pattern on Burdastyle by Ichigogirl. Its the same as the stripy one I made. The skirt is a Simplicity pattern that my mum gave me to kick start my sewing antics. It has a little vent on the front knee. I didn’t line it, unfortunately and this is something I would never do with wool now. I should really go back and line it. It would hang much better and not stick to my tights!
DAY 23: Black self-drafted pencil skirt
This is possibly the most worn and practical of garments in my wardrobe. It fits like a glove, because I drafted it to my exact measurements. It’s properly lined and the lining is even properly attached to the vent. The waistband incorporates a woven interfacing so it doesn’t roll and is fastened by a hook and bar instead of a rubbish ‘eye’! It was a fantastic learning curve making this skirt. So absolutely worth all the effort that it feels fantastic to wear. I always imagined a whole weeks worth of these to choose from and I still think that is highly necessary. They are perfect work skirts and glam up nicely for a spontaneous evening out too!
DAY 24: Stripy wool mini A-line skirt
A miserable day. No sunshine at all, so the woolly skirt came back out. No photographer today I’m afraid. I’ve come to realise how much I wear this skirt. Mostly when I can’t think of anything else to wear. It fits; it’s comfortable; it goes with DMs… and it keeps my butt warm!
DAY 25: The shortened Elisalex
Today was the 20th anniversary of the day my dad died. Always a sad day. But always a good excuse to don a pretty dress and catch up with my wonderful brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. The cemetery is a bit of a trek from the bus stop so I needed to sport something easy to walk in. Small heels means small skirt in my world so there was only one thing to do. And that was to chop the bottom off my test Elisalex dress! So glad I did. The duvet cover did good! Although I love my longer rosy version, it’s kind of ‘for best’ but this cheeky little version is now a great little throw-on when-the-sun-shines-and-go dress!
DAY 26: Grey pencil skirt
No photographic evidence today. I wore the first pencil skirt I ever drafted which still fits pretty well. Its lined but has no vent. I was taking things one step at a time back then and to learn to create a vent was information overload! I have to take pigeon steps but it still works. It’s a good staple, though a little boring. It’s days are numbered as soon as the others are on the cutting table!
DAY 27: First summer dress of the year
Today we went to the Surrey County Show. An ideal place to sport a full on flowery frock. Not such a great idea to wear in the goat tent though! Note that Mr O sought his photo opportunity before letting me know what was occurring! I still love this dress but I need to take some volume out of the back. I didn’t notice before but it gapes at the zip. I’m pretty sure its a simple fix. And hopefully it will fit better.
DAY 28: Danielle dress
Now here’s a blast from the past. Almost 2 years ago to the day. It was a bit of a squeeze, I can tell you. So much wrong with this dress but I still like the vibe of it. The fabric was a charity shop find, unsure of the content but it’s soooo itchy and scratchy. I thought I was being out there by using red lining but that turned out to be a no-no with the pale open weave fabric on the skirt! I can’t really breathe in this dress and you can tell by the pull across my chest but this dress is a lovely reminder that I should make another that fits in a much lovelier fabric.
DAY 29: Button back retro top
I was fast running out on day 29 so it was a great propmt to rectify some issues with some garments I don’t tend to wear any more. This one in particular was really annoying to wear because I made the neckhole too small. I really liked the jewel neckline but in reality it kind of chokes you to death. Only problem was that the first buttonhole started right at the top, so to lob a centimetre off the neckline would halve my first buttonhole. My need to wear a me-made top spurred on a quick fix and I replaced the buttonhole with a press-stud and sewed the button on top so nobody will ever know!
DAY 30: Vintage pencil skirt with pockets
Not yet blogged but again, a hurried make out of desperation but boy I’m glad. I’ve been meaning to make this for yonks! It still needs some fine tuning and this is really just a test garment but I will fill in the details when I blog it. But what’s more to say? Its a pencil skirt with pleats and front pockets… hooray!
DAY 31: 1940s shoe dress again!
A shameless repeat but one I’m prepared to wear again and again. This is by far one of my favourite dresses. It gets comments from total strangers as I stroll down to Sainsbo’s. It’s cool and comfy and is covered in shoes! This is the item of clothing that I need at least 5 more of. Along with 7 pencils skirts, my wardrobe should have at least 7 of these too!
And so we leave the month of May and venture on to pastures new. A prom dress for my friend’s daughter is on the go, FBA’s and all, a bespoke pencil skirt for my daughter’s birthday present and another that was bid on by my friend at the school auction. (Far too nervous to ask what she bid!)
Thank you as always for your wonderful comments and support x
And here is the long awaited tutorial. Sorry I took so long. I completely underestimated how long it would take to put together! Despite the lengthy post, this really is a simple sewing project, involving jus a few lines of straight line sewing. Please do a mock up first to check I haven’t given you a bum-steer! And please do point out anything that is unclear or needs adding.
It does, however require some very careful measuring and a few calculations.
No corners must be cut. The accuracy in the measurements will ensure perfectly fitting and super smooth operating blinds.
Remember: Measure twice (at least!) and cut once!
You will need:
Furnishing weight fabric for the outer
Curtain lining for the backing.
Nylon cord. As a guide I used 9m but yours may be more or less.
Small plastic rings
4 screw eyes
Acorn / cord pull.
Strong self adhesive velcro. The width of your window frame or baton.
Wooden doweling or synthetic rods cut to size.
Add 5cm side turnings and hem allowances on all sides, to this measurement, and cut your fabric.
First work out how many sections/folds you want to incorporate into your blind.
I chose to have 7.
The bottom panel must be half the depth of the others which are equidistant.
To calculate this I doubled 7 (panels) to make 14 and deducted 1 to make 13 and divided this into the finished depth of the blind (150cm in my case)
7 x 2 – 1 = 13
150cm / 13 = 11.5
11.5 is the half size panel at the bottom
The remaining 6 full size panels will be double that at 23cm (see fig 3)
You will also need to accommodate the dowels so extra fabric will be needed to allow for the casings.
Measure the circumference of your dowels and allow a couple of milimeters extra, otherwise you will struggle to get the dowels in the casings.
My casings were 12mm.
12mm x 7 panels = 84mm (8.4cm to be added to the final depth of the lining fabric)
So the finished measurement of the lining fabric to be cut is 80cm (width) x 158.4 (150+8.4)
Always measure twice and cut once!
You can now cut your lining to size.
4. Mark the positions of the panels then hem all round
Mark the positions of the panels, starting with the bottom one, in my case, 11.5cm from the bottom. I chose to mark on the right side with chalk to make the lines easier to follow.
Mark up from this point, the depth of the casing, in my case 12mm. From that point, mark the next full size panel up, in my case, 23cm
Mark the depth of the casing and from that point the next full size panel. Repeat the markings for the rest of the panel.
The side turnings and hem allowance is 2.5cm all round. Fold and press in position.
Sew all round close to the edges of the lining fabric so the rods wont get caught in the seams.
With wrong sides together and guide lines matching, fold in between the casing lines and press.
Sew accurately on the marked lines from edge to edge.
Repeat this for the remaining casings.
Your lining is now complete and ready to attach to the main fabric.
Lay the main fabric, as prepared in step 2, wrong side up on a flat surface.
Lay the prepared lining, wrong sides down, on top of the main fabric, making sure it sits 2.5cm in from each edge.
Making sure both layers are perfectly flat, pin together along the casings, so the casings are facing down towards the bottom hem.
Use as many pins as it takes to secure your two pieces together with no bubbles or creases!
Sew neatly and carefully from one side to the other, directly above the casings, sewing both lining and main fabric together.
Hand sew the top edge of the lining to the main fabric. Or machine stitch if you prefer.
7. Attaching the velcro
Stick the loop side (the fluffy side) of the velcro to the top edge of your blind.
Stick the hook side (the spiky side) of the velcro to the top edge of your baton or window.
NB. I used the strongest adhesive velcro I could find, which worked beautifully but to ensure it didn’t separate from the fabric I also hand stitched it.
This is very difficult but worth the effort to strengthen the bond. Do not under any circumstances try to sew it on the machine. The adhesive will totally ruin the needle and get stuck!
Inset a rod into the hem of the main fabric and hand sew the hem of the main fabric to encase it.
This helps to give the base of the blind a bit of weight and keeps it hanging nice and straight.
Hand sew the lining hem over the main fabric hem.
Insert the other rods into the casings and hand stitch the ends closed to stop the dowels falling out.
Hand sew 3 plastic rings to the centre of each dowel casing, one at each end and one in the middle.
It is important that the rings are perfectly aligned with each other.
Screw 3 screw-eyes into the the underside of your baton or window frame.
They must be aligned with the rings you have attached to your dowel casings.
Attach the 4th screw eye to the side of the window frame, in line with the others.
Attach 3 lengths of nylon cord to the bottom 3 rings. Ensure the knots are tied securely.
Assuming your pull cord is going to be on the right hand side of the window,
run the first length of nylon cord up through the right hand set of rings. It will need to be long enough to do this and then run along the top 3 screw eyes and the side screw eye, down to the cleat, plus a little bit more!
Then run the middle cord up through the rings and allow enough to run through the centre and right hand screw eye, and the side screw eye, down to the cleat, plus a little bit more!
The final cord runs up the rings in the same way, through the top right hand screw eye, through the side screw eye and down to the cleat plus a little bit more!
NB: The screw eyes will sit below the velcro in real life!
10. Attach the blind to the window
You can now attach your blind to the window by pressing the velcro edges together firmly.
Thread the cords as detailed above.
With the blind at the lowered position, carefully make sure that the cords are neatly and precisely lined up. Gently pull on them individually and secure all three cords together at the ends with an ‘acorn’ or cord-pull.
Attach your cleat, proudly raise your blind, marvel at the magical way it folds up and wrap the cord around your cleat. Or lower it and raise it a few more times just for the joyfulness of it all!
As promised, here is the finished shirt. It is a revisit to the same shirt I made for Mr Ooobop! almost a year ago. On first inspection I thought it must be 70s, given the flappy collars and slim fit. But one reader clocked the hairstyles on the pattern envelope and said it was probably more 1980s. Either way, its another vintage make that has been a valuable learning curve and keeps the old chap happy at the same time… double whammy!
I made some brave adjustments to the pattern this time. (Well, brave for me, that is!) Namely to the chest, shoulders and sleeve length. Of course there is a knock on effect for each change, given the many different pieces to this pattern, so I had to keep on my toes!
I have said it before, and I am very conscious of blowing Mr. Ooobop’s trumpet, but he is very good at knowing what fabric suits and especially good at choosing buttons. Check these out…
They are little chunky white buttons with a yellow fill and a black outline. They are indeed a trifle camouflaged here but I can’t imagine any other button being better on this shirt. I have mastered buttonholes, which is a good thing seeing as there were 13 of the damned things to make, but I did get a bit over confident and had to unpick two of them because they weren’t perfectly centred in the placket. I really don’t want to be doing that on a regular basis. Took as much time to unpick 2 buttonholes as it did to sew 13 of them AND hand sew on all of the buttons!
I couldn’t resist adding a couple of new features to this one. I underlined the collar, the collar stand and the under flaps of the pockets in a plain red cotton…
… and I added some bias trim to the curved shirt hem. Mostly because Mr. Ooobop! wanted to preserve the length. It was an obvious solution but I think it makes for a lovely finish too, highlighting the shirt-tails!
I am really happy with the fit on this one.
Mr Oobop! got a fair few comments when he turned up at his last gig.
The finishing on this shirt – all the topstitching and flat felled seams – was the time consuming bit. but imagine how long it took me to match that rose on the shoulder?! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge 😉 )
Special thanks to George, Tom and Cat of The Redfords for the fabulous photography.