Monday, February 27, 2012

Chapter 3, The "Queen of Hearts"

"Queen of Hearts" Sweatercoat before washing...

This is my first coat. I was preparing for the "Retro Indie" show and wanted to finish in time to present it at the show. Because the show was the second weekend in February, Darlene and I were going for a red/pink/romantic sort of Valentine-ish theme. Since red and black sweaters were easy to find, I decided to make my first coat in these colors.

I started out fine following the first couple of steps in the tutorial and then I was stumped at the "attach the straps at the waistband" step. I wasn't sure HOW to attach the straps so I just skipped that step and thought I would figure it out later. MISTAKE! After attaching the skirt and the bodice it was to late to insert the ends of the ties into the waistband (as I eventually figured out I should do...) so I just made a sash instead. No big deal.... I'll get it right next time...

I should say that I am a very seasoned seamstress with decades of experience. I actually own three sergers. Like Goldilocks I have one that is "too crappy," one that is "too complicated," and one that is "just right." It is a Bernina 1300 DC. I am very familiar with my machine and can practically thread it with my eyes closed. So although I had to monkey around with the tension dials a little, I didn't really have too much trouble getting started on the actual sewing.

I also have a huge drawer full of serger thread and it has been really fun to select the color of thread to coordinate or contrast with the sweater fabrics. For this first coat I chose fuchsia thread. It looks great!

The next step that had me stuck was attaching the hood. Now, I have made plenty of hoodies in the past and I know how to attach a hood, but I was following Kat's hood instruction to "fold it in half and sew it." I sewed it all the way to the brim which gave me a "cone" shape. I know better. I know this is not how to make a hood, but I was following the instructions very literally. So then when it was time to attach the hood, I knew I had a problem. Anyway, I fudged my way through and it didn't turn out too badly but I made a note for next time to trust my instincts.

My hood was very long. Very. Long.

I finished the coat and took it to the show and put it on a dress form. While there I noticed that the hood continued to stretch. It was ALIVE I tell you. By the end of the day I think the hood was about 12 inches longer than it was in the morning. And not only that, but the coat was obviously longer in the front and shorter in the back!

(Although interestingly, when my models came to the house and tried on the coats, they actually liked it longer in the front!)

Anyway, when I got back home I had the crazy idea to put the coat through another wash cycle, Hot water, dryer, everything. I thought it might tighten up the hood and perhaps fix the length problem.

After washing...

Well that was interesting.

The coat did shrink up a bit, but the proportions are the same. Later, I shortened the hood with my serger. The coat is still shorter in the front and now it just has a LOT of lint on it.

Sigh... I am going through a lot of lint rollers....

So - here is what I learned from the first coat:

1. Get the waistband and ties right the first time.

2. Trim the front edges in a way that creates a shorter front.

3. Don't make such a long hood.

4. Buy more lint rollers.

Also, I didn't try to add a zip front or buttons or pockets. I'd like to try them next time.

Want to sew along with me? Buy Kat's tutorial here.

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