Monday, June 9, 2008

Change of Plans

My husband and life coach discovered yesterday that I am planning to make not one, but two, coats. He also suspects (as do I) that I will have a LARGE hand in making the third coat in the household, which is really our DD's project.

Photo: Courtesy The McCall Pattern Company

He flipped.

Here's the back story.

I planned to make the BWOF trench because I had all the materials on hand. I LOVE these collaborative online sewing experiences, and have come to realize I'd rather learn something new than sew lots of new garments. I didn't want to miss out on Marji's project and signed up. Although Marji is graciously supporting us trench-coat makers, I began to feel that I should not take up space in the coat sew-along for a trench, because Marji's stated goal is to teach winter coats. DH sent me out to buy coat fabric (!!!!) so I could play according to Marji's rules and game plan. (You have to know what a rule-follower I am to understand this).

As I was looking at swatches online, I asked DD about a purple fabric. She said, "You know, if you make that, you will never ever see it again." So, I am going to teach her/guide her/help her sew a coat. My mother, who has been down this path before (oh, about 35-40 years ago), laughed out loud when I told her.

That is how a one-coat summer became a three-coat summer.

Remember the DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis? The inflamed tendon sheath in my thumb? DH/Life Coach does. He. Put. His. Foot. Down. One Coat. ONE. And DD Makes Her Own.

So the new plan? No Burda trench coat. Instead, use the eggplant melton from Gorgeous Fabrics to copy Marfy 1022, above.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Color and Fabric Choices

The coating on the left is eggplant melton, from Ann describes it as having a "firm weave, fabulous hand and wonderful drape," and that it "is slightly lighter weight than our flannel coatings." The blue flannel coating on the right feels wonderful, but does not play as nicely with the colors in my wardrobe and in my "to sew" pile as the eggplant.

I've ordered the eggplant and a purple flannel (not shown), which has an amazingly soft hand. The purple coating is for my daughter, who wants a below-hip-length coat.

For the coat sew along, I will be working with three very different wool fabrics: a gabardine, the melton, and the flannel. I think it will be fun to compare interlinings and interfacings with these fabrics!


By virtue of reading Shannon's blog Hungry Zombie Couture, I am tagged!

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago I had just finished my third year as a school librarian, and was looking forward to a summer off with lots of time in my garden. My children were 11 and 8, so I was spending a lot of time driving to ballet, helping with costumes, and eating peanuts and hot dogs at little league baseball games.

What are 5 things on my to-do list today?

  1. Straighten up the kitchen. (done)
  2. Go to Anna's graduation party. (done)
  3. Set up David's table at church, highlighting his accomplishments (for graduating seniors). Sub tasks include buy plastic table cloth and appropriate confetti; select, crop, and mount photos for table. (done)
  4. Go to the grocery store to buy potatoes for tomorrow's post-baccalaureate service dinner, since David shot up all the potatoes with the potato gun at Anna's party. (done)
  5. Order coating fabric for the coat sewalong.
Snacks I enjoy.

Almonds (dry roasted, unsalted).
Dark chocolate.
Nacho chips with guacamole.
Salted-in-the-shell peanuts (see above).

Things I would do if I were a billionaire.

  • give a big chunk of money to my church
  • donate 1.5 million to the school district I work for to upgrade the 5 high school libraries
  • hire someone to clean my house
  • invest the rest and live on the interest

Places I have lived.

I don't get around much! I grew up less than 50 miles from my mother's family's ancestral home, and now live about 25 miles away from my parents.

Norfolk, VA.

Blacksburg, VA (while in college at VA Tech)

Hampton, VA (1 year)

Newport News, VA

Williamsburg, VA (for 3 weeks -- in the Historic Area)

What types of work have I done.

Secretary(to a librarian)

Library acquisitions/technical services

Architectural archives

Photographic libraries (including photo editorial work)

School library

School library administration

6 peeps I want to know more about.

Shannon has a great strategy for this -- If you are reading this, leave me a message and TAG! YOU'RE IT!

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Virtual Coat: A Girl Can Dream!

While my hand recuperates, I am not supposed to sew, trace or trim patterns, or cut out fabric.

But a girl can dream! For the next couple of weeks, I am going to blog about virtual coats. I have no intention of actually MAKING them, but I want to play around with matching up patterns and virtual fabric to inspiration.

How about this sunny yellow coat by Chado Ralph Rucci (Fall 2008):


This is a beautiful basic shape, with curved horizontal bands across the coat and down the sleeves. I would love to see more details, but this will have to do:

It looks like the braided edge is attached with bullion stitches, or "worms," as Kathryn Brenne reports that Rucci calls them in her article "Deconstructing a Master: The Art and Craft of Chado Ralph Rucci" in Vogue Patterns (June/July 2008). I cannot tell from the runway photos if the bands between the sections of coat are braid or simple rouleau bands.

For my pattern, I would use something without princess seams. This Sandra Betzina pattern (V7976) offers nice shaping with multiple darts, and a nice high armhole. Perhaps the darts could be rotated and used as seams between the curved, horizontal bands across the coat. Other pattern alterations: extend fronts to create button placket; lengthen; and construct collar so that it extends up rather than laying down.
At Denver Fabrics and Fashion Fabric Club I found these beauties in the $10-$14/yd range:

Sawyer Brook has this wool/viscose/silk blend for about three times that price:

And ManhattanFabrics has this lovely double-faced wool:

I think I'm in love. . . .And I don't even like yellow! Which one would YOU choose?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pacing Myself

Resting the injury is the top priority. So, I am steaming the red gabardine in sections, using my non-injured hand to hold the iron. The fabric has already been treated using the London Shrink Method, but I did not take care to keep it from wrinkling. I am using two steaming methods to force steam into the fabric to get rid of the wrinkles:
  1. Carolyn's "Steam the heck out of it" method, and
  2. holding the iron about 1 inch above the fabric and steaming it.
Just steaming the fabric (#2) did not get rid of the wrinkles. With Carolyn's method, you can force more steam into the fabric.

I know this is having an effect because the fabric ripples up with the steam and straightens out slightly as it dries.

Carolyn (and others) recommend letting the fabric dry completely before moving it. This makes for a L-O-N-G project. I got almost half way through last night and could take no more! I folded the fabric in half lengthwise, accordion-folded it, and hung it from the selvedges until I can do a little more.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

Image credit: Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group. (2001) A Patient's Guide to de Quervain's Tenosynovitis. in Hand University. accessed from on June 1, 2008.

I've been calling it an "extreme sewing injury." I first experienced pain in my thumb almost two years ago, the summer in which I helped move 4 school libraries (grasp books, pack books, unpack books, shelve books, reshelve books), typed a lot, and sewed non-stop with wonderful fabrics and trims just brought back from NYC. I've tried Advil, periods of rest, a support glove (which I lost), but inevitably the pain returns if I sew more than half an hour at a time.

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis is named for the Swiss doctor who first identified it in the mid 1890's. It is often called a repetitive stress injury, but some suggest that it is "idiopathic," having no known cause. All sewists, gardeners, crafters, etc. use the same muscles and wrist motions, and some develop this syndrome and others don't. The condition is caused by an irritation of the sheath that surrounds the tendons that go to the thumb. Some people feel or hear creaking as the tendon moves against the sheath.

Well, its back. And it hurts. I realized during this year's swap sewing that maybe the pain I felt while sewing made me enjoy it less. Imagine that! I finally went to the doctor. It is hard to explain why a diagnosis seems to make the condition more real.

The web documents suggest a recovery period of 4-6 weeks. I am not sure how I am going to stop sewing for that long, but I am determined to be a good patient, learn how to strengthen my wrist, take proper rest breaks, and set up my work area to be more ergonomic than it is now. I have ordered several books recommended for Marji's coat sew along, and I suppose I will read and dream while recovering.

Red BWOF Trench

Marji's great coat sew along is well under way with a private shared blog to track the experience. One hundred sewists are participating, with ten signed on in the role of resident consulting experts. Marji's stated goal is to lead a group of people through the process of tailoring a winter coat. Several of us have started out the journey planning to sew trenchcoats, but I will probably switch my primary project to a winter coat.

But here is my plan for the Burda trench #128 from January 2008.

Fabric: red wool gabardine
Underlining: not selected yet
Trim: gray and cream synthetic python
mottled buttons with a dull finish
gray buckle

My first task will be to select an underlining fabric. The gabardine is very fluid and light weight. They python trim is rather beefy, with a knit backing. I think the gabardine needs something behind it to support the trim.