Yep, there’ll be no more swimming in Walden Pond for me this year. Sigh. The leaves haven’t turned yet – one of the major consolations of impending winter when one lives in the NorthEast – but we have been treated to a solid week of drizzle and rain. Why, it’s almost like home!
And a change in the weather means a change in sewing. To be honest, I get a real “back to school” boost at this time of year. And if I’m no longer traipsing around John Lewis getting a new set of v-neck jumpers and a 12 pack of pens (oh! how I loved that), I might as well dig into some fun new projects.
My first two fall undertakings: a trenchcoat, and a quilt.
I have a well-worn Boden trenchcoat which I’ve loved for years. It’s classic tan, with a British lining chocablock with beefeaters and the Houses of Parliament. Alas, it doesn’t really fit me. For the most part, I’ve got rid of clothes that don’t fit me – why else bother sewing? But because it’s just so versatile and useful, I’ve kept the trenchcoat despite the fact it barely buttons up, and when I try I look like a trussed up chicken sausage. Not a good look. So, finally, after 3 years of intending to, I’m actually making one that fits.
After some research, I realised that the trendy trenchcoat patterns – the Sewaholic Robson and Named Isla – weren’t going to work, because I’d have to adjust them so much for my bust. So, digging around on Pattern Review I found the solution: McCall’s M5525. View E is a classic knee length trenchcoat with a little cape thing on the back (not sure what that’s called?) and princess seams. I’m also going to add the shoulder guard thing from version C, for a bit of… pizzazz.
While I’m really attracted to crazy colour coats I decided to do a classic tan one first. If this one works out, no doubt you’ll see other versions. I ordered a bunch of swatches from Mood and I ended up with this Theory Candied Ginger Cotton Twill. And then, for the lining, I’m using a Liberty silk satin I bought on my trip to Shaukat in London recently – it’s a bright orange and blue window pane design which is annoyingly difficult to photograph (it’s much brighter than it appears here).
While I do like making coats, there’s no doubts that the first steps are tedious in the extreme! It took me 4.5 hours to cut all the pieces, interfacing, and lining. PHEW. By that point I usually want to abandon the whole thing. I’m also not the most organized, and I lack much table space in my sewing room so this is what ends up happening:
I started construction and now have two small pocket flaps and the back lining to show for it, but I ran into a lack of suitable topstitching thread or the bias tape I need, so things are on hold until I pick those up.
But fear not, because I have a second project on the go! (actually multiple more but I’m trying not to freak myself out). I really like having something to do in front of the TV and until I finally pull my finger out and learn to knit, that leaves me with hand needlework. Lucky for me, my friend Norma (of Marlborough bra fame) gave me a really thoughtful birthday present – the constellation quilt kit from Haptic Lab. I made a quilt of the Boston city map two years ago and really enjoyed the process, and I’m already enjoying my new one!
The kit consists of a piece of medium weight interfacing with the design on it, which you pin onto a sandwich of quilting cotton and batting. Then you sew through all the layers (I’m using tiny Japanese needles which are great for this), and at the end you carefully rip the paper off. It’s actually a simpler design than the Boston map, so I’m anticipating it will take weeks rather than months. However I’m still on the fence about whether to French knot the Milky Way… I’m not that good at French knots but I guess if I do it, I’ll be better by the end! So far, I’ve nearly finished the “quilting” lines (in blue thread on the blue background) to anchor it all down, and then I’ll do the stars on top.
So hopefully I’ll have a rainy day trenchcoat and a snuggly quilt before long. Does your sewing change a lot at this time of year? Do you get the same back to school fervour as me? Or am I the only unreformed swot?