Saturday, 10 August 2013

A rag coat. The perils of being a brand name fabric tragic Burda Style 10-2012-102

In my more self congratulatory moments, I like to think that I am at the not-terribly-involved end of the consumer culture bell curve, after all, I like to make things, grow things, cook from scratch and do-it-myself.

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However, this is one big self delusion, particularly when it comes to fabric acquisition, because somehow, when a fabric is called "Liberty" or  or "Linton Tweed", all of a sudden it becomes remarkably more attractive. Even worse," used by Donna Karan" "end of roll from Lisa Ho" or "used by Chanel" has the same sort of aura despite the fact that neither I, nor anyone I associate with would recognize these fabrics as "designer" unless told so ! What can I say? Marketing techniques work.
Imagine then, my weakness when Gorgeous Fabrics had some "used by Chanel knit", in a sale no less. It leapt out at me in a weak moment.

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Buyers remorse struck as soon as the horrific total hit my fabric enthralled brain, but it was too late, and worse, I had bought 2 full yards -the jacket of my fevered imagination needing 1.25 yards and the website selling full yards only. 
Despite a rather guilty feeling, I was determined to do this fabric justice.II picked out the pattern and ordered a selection of zips from Zipperstop in colours I thought would look pretty good (I love the Pantone numbers on the Gorgeous Fabrics site, allowing this sort of pre planning).
When the fabric arrived, none of my other fabrics were quite the right colour for the trim, so I held a yarn audition and knit a nice wide piece in moss stitch in a variegated grey, a bit time consuming, but worth it, I told myself, for this fancy project. I picked out a nice stretch silk to line the jacket and was all set for a muslin.

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The muslin was in polarfleece, this having approximately the same thickness and stretch as the real deal fabric, and I thought I might get a useful running jacket from my trial.
The muslin, was possibly the most ill fitting and unattractive thing I have ever made from Burda - clearly not suitable for my magic fabric.
Whilst I was mourning my pattern failure  inappropriateness.  I decided to get the fabric out and see if I could wash it (100% wool) which would increase my pattern options
I already knew the fabric was quite unusual in construction,very interesting, with an almost roving texture of yarn on a very fine and open knit mesh- like base on one side and a stocking stitch texture on the other
, but what I had not seen before this up close and personal inspection were the holes, clearly ravelling even as I held the fabric up against the light to inspect it.

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Holes.
I did not contact Gorgeous Fabrics about this. I have never had trouble with fabric from this source before, and the service has always been excellent. Probably I should have, but I didn't - by the time anything was sorted, if it were sorted, and not eaten up by the postage costs between the USA and Australia, the weather here would be hot and un-woolly-knit suitable, and I was pretty sure that Ann had not gone around snipping holes in her fabrics.

I was in a very cross state inspired by my double disappointment - the fabric was toast, the pattern was toast, and all of a sudden, I could try anything with this  raggy old fabric.

1. I mended the holes. Darning is a skill of my mis-spent youth, and I happened to have some recycled mohair-merino yarn in just the right green. I then hand washed the fabric and lay it out flat on towels to dry -no more holes appeared, a win!

2. I picked an easy looking pattern, that used 2 yards of fabric - I didn't want this lying around leering at me in my stash reminding me of my bad sewing weekend. From my magazine collection, but also available here,  Burda Style 10-2012-102 - No one had reviewed this at pattern review (or the nearly the same 101 nor 103), but I Did Not Care.

 I decided to use the fancy poufy side of the fabric as the "wrong" side that makes up the extravagant collar and started cutting.

(I found a very cool version of the coat here at Dottiedoodle though..and a nice new-to-me sewing blog to look at, bonus!t)

3. I didn't  even make a muslin. Bad me.

4. I cut up an old merino rib knit top of my husband's to semi line the back and the outer fronts over the bust (the pattern is unlined) - not wasting any stretch silk on this old rag! The old knit top has some holes that look suspiciously like welding burns all over the front, even though a certain person claims to never wear his hand made clothes for welding..... Good to use up some more rags though. I felt that the fabric needed some support in stress areas.

To prevent sitting-down/reaching forward damage to the fabric, I not only lined it to mid thigh at the back, but added an inverted pleat, stitched down at the neck and the waist.

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 Although the fabric is quite bulky, this gives some shape, although unfortunately not miraculous visual slimness, to this otherwise boxy cut.

5.I finished the inner seams with zigzag stitch on the machine (my overlocker hated the fabric and went into a 3 day sulk after being introduced to it briefly).

I hemmed and edged the coat by hand using the same knitting yarn  as I did for the darns, in catch stitch, for the stretchy properties of this stitch. No couture techniques for my rag coat. (You can see in the first photo where I forgot to turn the cuff down after taking inside photos of my rough hemming)
The pattern instructions say not to hem (their mohair knit), or if you want to hem, to add 2cm. I added the 2cm, but when I came to the fronts, realized that due to the wrong side of the fabric being the collar, the hem would have to switch sides somewhere along the front edges. Instead of doing this, I left in the mitred corner at the inside of the bottom hem, giving a rounded front lower edge, but otherwise left the collar and front edges raw, which makes me feel like a sewing rebel.

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6. Actually, on returning to the coat later in the week, I had forgiven it slightly, and bound the neck seam, which might be visible if I were to take it off and hang it up somewhere in public, with bias silk duchess satin, which I just happened to have lying around in forest green. (My daughter's formal dress )

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7. Having developed a mild affection for the coat by this stage,  I was concerned that the fastening would pull the fabric apart. I chose not to use snaps as instructed in the pattern, as these encourage pulling, that being how you undo them, and backed the button region and the loop fastening region with scraps of the bias satin, and extra buttons to support the outer ones.

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You can't see the buttons when the coat is fastened, but I rather like the look of them, almost brooch like, when the coat is worn open.

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5. Amazingly, the resulting coat is remarkably pleasing to me, even though it looks nothing like my original idea. It is very warm, and I can throw it on over jeans or even my knit dress.

In fact, I think it looks much more practical than Karl's use of the fabric - March 2009. No wonder the fabric has holes in it, Karl has had it lying around for years!



Hmm, maybe I could make a silly looking hat with the scraps Oh, wait, I already have a green silly hat ;) A Chanel fabric pencil case maybe.......

Stashbusting Statistics
Dismal failure, fabric both newly purchased and expensive.
I will wear my nice woolly coat whilst I walk to work for the remaining frosty mornings of winter in order to assuage my conscience.



37 comments:

jacquianne said...

Karen you have made a silk purse out of the preverbial!! I can understand the disappointment - I have ordered fabric from the States and I am sure it costs more to ship to NZ than the fabric. In fact I think I have yet to make up any of my very expensive fabric!

Marie said...

Love it. It is wonderful how freeing it can be when there is no pressure to use the perfect fabric on the perfect project. The coat looks amazing and I bet you wear it heaps.

Catherine Daze said...

Great collar. It's a very stylish coat.

Sue said...

I,myself am looking forward to the weather warming up, but I hope you get enough cool mornings to wear your lovely coat!

opportunityknits said...

You're my hero! You made a stylish coat and defeated the stash of guilt!

Elise Lin said...

When I saw the first picture I thought it was a gorgeous coat. And after reading I was so surprised to see it turned out so beautiful even after all the hassle with it! Patternwise I wouldn't have thought you could make such a gorgeous coat looking at the Burda pattern. The rounded hem is a great addition, and I love the cowl.

Elise Lin said...

When I saw the first picture I thought it was a gorgeous coat. And after reading I was so surprised to see it turned out so beautiful even after all the hassle with it! Patternwise I wouldn't have thought you could make such a gorgeous coat looking at the Burda pattern. The rounded hem is a great addition, and I love the cowl.

Audrey said...

Looking at the first picture I thought you had used a vintage pattern to make your great looking coat. I can also see it worn over jeans as you described. Designer fabric is usually better quality that that made for the mass sewing market, so I think your preference (and I have the same one) is justified. Too bad about the holes in this one, but you made the most of the situation!

Clio said...

I think Audrey is right about the designer fabrics (or at least that's what I tell myself when I indulge). Beautiful coat!! If I had not read your post and just looked at the pics I would have thought this was exactly what you had carefully planned for the fabric! It's classy and cosy!

T. Sedai said...

All's well that ends well? Your coat looks great! Very stylish. Too bad it was such a pain to get to that point, but at least you made something so you can wear your lovely (even if it is hole-y) fabric.

gMarie said...

Wow! Way to work through frustration and end up with a beautiful garment. Too bad about the lack of stash busting, but on the flip side a new purchase didn't add to the stash and you used it all. I'd call that a win. g

BetsyV said...

For all the angst, you sure made a great-looking coat! Sending (too) warm weather your way, postage included ;)

shams said...

A great save and you ended up with a very stylish coat!

Mary Nanna said...

It's a really beautiful fabric and I'm glad you still have some time to wear it before the weather warms up.

We are all allowed an indulgence in our lives - and I like to think that buying beautiful fabric is the equivalent of giving oneself a large " because I'm worth it" pat on the back.

fabric epiphanies said...

What a shame the fabric was faulty. I do like your coat though, very Classy !

Vicki said...

Fun story (well not for you) and great result in the end. Looks warm and cosy.

Janine said...

actually despite all of this it is a lovely coat and the collar open and closed is stylish and unique . I am so glad that you ended up taking to the coat because your extra little details ( and I note the stripe matching across the sleeves and coat front as well !!)make it super as well. Perhaps Anne could have given you a discount on your next purchase with the fabric being faulty ??

cidell said...

Beautiful. I never would have know what to do with the fabric in the first place nevermind administer some fixes.

Paola said...

If anyone could effect a save, it would be you. Great coat. The colours of both the coat and dress look good on you too.

theperfectnose said...

Sh*********t what a saga! You saved it well though and I really like the combination of colours in that fabric. I recently washed a wool that'd been waiting 2 years for me to build up the the 'skill' -and it's actually going to be something quite simple. XD The coat looks good on you-bonus points for the yet to be seen hat ;)

Mary said...

First off, a wonderful coat!! I think the color and textures are perfect for you. Secondly, this post is amazing and inspiring. How often do we defeat ourselves because we are not flexible? You certainly proved your creativity and flexibility with this project. Well done!

BeaJay said...

What a wonderful story and a fabulous coat. Just shows how perseverance and good fabric can save the day. I love it with the hat. Very retro. Gorgeous.

Carolyn said...

Hehe, what a story!! and for such a disastrous turn of events you've triumphed in the end with a truly gorgeous coat. It's absolutely beautiful!

Sharon said...

Gorgeous coat and so glad you managed to convince it to be such a wonderful coat. Enjoy wearing it.

Dottie Doodle said...

Congratulations for not giving up! It's a great coat and I'm sure you'll wear it a lot. I love my version, and thank you for the mention!

Valerie said...

Wow! Genuine-looking retro-fabulous coat. No fabric acquisition guilt must be entered into!

liza jane said...

I think it looks fab, especially unbuttoned. Good save!

Tia Dia said...

It's gorgeous! What a saga to get to the end of a lovely stylish coat. I love that collar.

beurreblanc said...

Fabulous. And great story. Thanks for reviewing the pattern too. Its been on my to do list, but I am still working though stuff from 2007 issues of Burda...
-Sewingelle

Martha said...

How clever you are, and lovely in your beautiful new coat, too!

Galica said...

Your post nearly had me in front of my more costly stash items with a speculative eye and a seam ripper! Maybe a small strategic nick, to let the expensiveness out, would make all the difference to my ability to make these pieces into clothing. I lost my bottle this time, but I'm seriously contemplating welcoming each new piece that way - a sort of therapeutic costliotomy to take away the fear of stuffing up good yardage. I'd be bound to hit the wrong spot though and the thing would bleed (value) to death. Maybe those moths are trying to help me after all.

Seriously though, well done for persevering. It's another beautiful garment and the colour is excellent on you!

katherine h said...

I'm a sucker for designer fabric myself!

This turned out great...you actually look like one of the drawings on a vintage pattern...you know those drawings that everyone wants to look like but no seems able to pull off...perhaps because of the designer fabric??

Kristy said...

Sometimes the most annoying projects turn out the best (and sometimes not...). You look fantastic in this coat, especially with your hat in the first photo - we should all wear hats more often I think

Gail said...

My stash of fabric and patterns is also at the pathological level. Your new coat is utterly sensational - best winter garment of Blogland 2013.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

What a great story! I love that you threw caution to the wind and just went for it. The coat is actually quite awesome, and it looks so warm. I love the extravagant collar.

kushami said...

I love how the coat looks - very 1920s around the collar. Super stylish, and yet with such an interesting story behind it!

Joy said...

It's gorgeous! You certainly did the fabric justice!