Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh, the Pea Coat: A Tale of Heartache and Redemption (sort of)

Yes, I agree, the title is a little dramatic, but not incorrect.

I purchased this book on the recommendation of Dana from MADE.

I trust her judgment, I really do, but I should have read the reviews on Amazon beforehand.

It's still a good book, though, and has great patterns--and that alone is worth paying for it. But, it has issues. It could use some improvement. Like some editing improvement in major ways...from the pattern the the photos for the instructions. Part of it I am sure I can attribute to reader error, but it could be better.

I really wanted to make this pea coat.

It is labeled as a Boy's Pea Coat, but I figured it would work just as well for a girl. I printed out the pattern pieces and read the instructions before beginning this project. Then, I got ready to start this thing. And that's when things started to not add up. The issues became apparent, and the person on the Amazon review was absolutely correct.

So if you have this book and/or want to make this project hopefully the work I have done will help you to complete it with good results. I don't go into great depth as I am assuming you know how to piece together a basic shoulder seam, and add sleeves, and attach a lining. If not, please find a tutorial that will help you with that. There are some really great patterns out there for pea coats that probably have better instructions so those might be your best bet.

Apparently the previous book to this one is a really good starting point for beginners. It has good reviews. I do not own that book nor have I tried other pea coat patterns so I can not say for sure if they are good/helpful.

One...there is no size chart anywhere for the pea coat. You have no idea which size you need to cut out for your pattern. I chose to do the largest size because if it ended up being too big, eh, the girl could grow into it. Sizes, and size charts are our friends.

Two...the pattern instructions and the book instructions don't match up. Cut on the fold...? back seam....?...wait...which one is it? I have no idea still. So I cut the back piece on the fold. No seam down the middle.

Three...the instructions say to match notches. Umm, there are no notches on the pattern so you kind of just have to guess/eyeball it/match the centers to make sure it goes together the way you want so it doesn't turn out wonky. <Technical sewing term, y'all.

Here's what I did:

I bought the fabric I wanted to use from Joann's. Cute polka dot flannel and gray corduroy.

I cut out the pieces, but let's back up a bit and look at the pattern pieces.

You can't tell from the photo but there are no sizes listed on the pattern marks or a size chart on the pattern anywhere. Also, no notches. The back piece is on the fold.

I cut out the pieces and started assembling the jacket. The gray corduroy pieces turned out fine when I put them together, but the lining pieces...well, it got complicated.

So, we have a jacket front lining and a jacket front that says cut two of lining. Hmmm. How does that work? Four front lining pieces seem a bit much.
If you cut out all the pieces and start to assemble them, well it will look something like this.
The jacket front lining and the corduroy lapel piece can go together, but the jacket front piece...umm, if everything was supposed to go together the lining lapel piece would be covered up by the jacket front pieces. Don't think that is what is supposed to happen. Instructions would have been nice here.
This is what it would look like if all three pieces were put together: front and back.
I think we have options, but it doesn't say so in the instructions. One option is to cut 2 of the lining fabric using just the jacket front pattern piece.

If you choose this then when the lapel opens after it is buttoned up you will see the lining on the outside. Could be a really cute pop of color against the outer color. Also, you wouldn't need to cut two of the jacket front lining or lapels for the inside. See how it fits the outer jacket? Good match. Remember this would be on the inside with the dots popping out against the gray. I just wanted to show how it would match up.

The other option is to just cut the front lining pieces, and the lapel lining pieces in the corduroy fabric so that when the lapel flips over you don't see the polka dot lining I am using. You will get the corduroy lining piece instead. This is the option I chose. No need to cut out 2 lining pieces from the jacket front pattern.

Then I started putting the lining pieces together to finish everything up.

Starting to look better. Next up sleeves, where there are no notches to match up.

The collar:
I'm not sure what these photos are supposed to accomplish other than to show that I need more practice at attaching collars.

You need to make sure that you match up the lining and outer collars well. There are no notches or marks on the pattern to help with that, like it says. It may look kind of weird, but it should turn out ok. Again, just takes practice.

I'm not sure why the photos in the book show the lining and the collar like this. Mine doesn't quite look like that. I don't understand it either. I did the best I could with my limited knowledge of attaching collars.

Assembling everything:
I attached the lining to the outer jacket and stitched from the jacket front opening, up to the collar, around the collar, and back down the other side of the front opening. When you turn everything around so that the right sides are where they are supposed to be, the seam stitches should between the outer jacket and the lining, hidden.

The book instructions here are pretty good. It also makes it easier if you already have an understanding of how to attach a lining to a garment. If not, you can find a lining tutorial online as well.

Next was to start sewing the hems of the sleeves and the waist.

I ironed the lining under a tiny bit more than the corduroy. I didn't want it to be visible. Then, stitched around both sleeves in matching gray thread so that it would almost disappear on the outside.

I did the waist hem the same way trying make sure it was even all the way around. Here's the outcome.

Not too bad. There is a little issue where the collar meets the lapel. That little corner that goes in is not quite right.

This is the first time I have made this particular project and I have very little experience with collars and lapels. Those notches sure would be handy for this.

If you tried to make my lapel and collar look like it is supposed to you can see that the serging threads will show. There is also a lot of bulk there because of the amount of fabric in that area. Since I made this project for my girl, and not for someone else, I am not going to worry about the thread showing. I did my best with what I had.

Now I had to decide what buttons to use. The instructions say to use the pattern for button placement. Will do. Oh, wait. Button placement would have been nice if that had been included on the pattern. I didn't see any marks for buttons so I just had to figure it out.

The pattern calls for 1 inch buttons. The white, and black buttons are 1 inch. They just don't look big enough though.

Other color options...

Oh, the many choices. Which to choose?

I didn't have enough of any one color to use for the jacket.
No problem, I'll just have to go buy more buttons from the store.
Button shopping trip...
Pretty colors. Bright or muted? Both good options.
But which color should I use? Four buttons or six buttons?
Maybe a combination to match the lining? Bring the dots to the outside?
I like the six button look.

The light brown or dark brown button?
Do I make six button holes or three?
I'll have to have her try it on to see which one I will have to do. I don't want it to wrap around her too tightly. I want the buttons to be in the right place as well.

A sneak peek at what it might look like when it is completely finished. Photos sans buttons. I wanted to see how it would fit.

Aww...cute lining! Seems like a good fit. My best guess is that the largest pattern size is around a 4T. The girl is wearing a 3T shirt. I try to buy her a jacket a size bigger than she is wearing so that bulky winter clothing won't get all bunchy in a jacket the same size as her clothing. My girl is on the very average side, according to her pediatrician's office growth charts.

I had a friends' girl try on this jacket. She wears 18 month clothing and it swallowed her up. She's on the tiny side.

Our photo shoot with a coordinating outfit. I use the term coordinating loosely.

Front and back view.

Definitely a 4T-ish fit. I tried to jacket on her and decided to do six buttonholes! Trying to make sure they are spaced nicely, and even, takes some patience and time. They are not perfect, but you can't really tell. Also, according to photos online the buttons go on the opposite side for a girl jacket than a boy jacket. But if you get it wrong, no big deal, as long as it buttons up and keeps the kid warm that is all that matters. My buttons are opposite from what the book shows for the boy.

Unbuttoned and inside view: Love it.

A few cutesy photos. Trying to make sure the model and the outside lighting work together was not easy. It was a cloudy day, perfect for photos, but the sun was on the decline so the flash would come on and wash her out. I edited some of the photos to help with that, but I need more practice in my photographing abilities. Maybe I should take a class?... When would I have time? The focus is on the jacket and not the model so no need to be so concerned on my part.

She does make a pretty good model. She's got that distant, far away look on her face. And then she changes to a silly face. Love that face!

So, if you have this book and have been wanting to make the Pea Coat, I hope this helps. If you are a very beginner sewer you might want to rethink this project and find another pea coat pattern to try first, then come back to this one if you decide to try it. I've seen several cute pea coat patterns online that say they can be done by beginners, so they do exist.

Again, my best guess for the largest pattern size you can cut out is a 4T. My girl is wearing 3T clothing and the jacket fits nicely and she has a little growing room, and room for the thicker winter clothing as well. Like I said, I try to buy my kids a size bigger in coats to account for bulky winter clothing, and any growing they may do during the season. Something to keep in mind.

Despite the confusion that occurred with this project, it had a good outcome. I love happy endings!

Good luck on your projects!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Week

Why is there always so much to do? It's been my week of mostly off work days, which means I do more work than if I was actually at work.
Here's what happened:

*Housework, laundry, cleaning, school, teaching, t-ball games, homework. All that parenting stuff.

*Tuesday the girl had a dentist appointment to sort of fill in some deep grooves on her bottom molars so that "cavity bugs" can't hide in there and cause problems. She sort of got two small fillings to prevent having to get fillings later on. This procedure would also make it easier to clean her teeth. She did great. The dentist just walked right in and got to work. No numbing stuff, no laughing gas, no shots. She barely moved and didn't make a noise. When they were done she picked out a spikey pink ring from the prize box. That's my girl!

*After the dentist we went to the fair to pick up my items. I put all of my ribbons together.

*One of the people who work in one of the buildings I work in is trying to clean out her mom's house. The short of the story is that she has a bunch of fabric. She asked if I wanted it. Sure, I said. I like free fabric. She mentioned that some of it is probably pretty dated, but if it could be used I could have it. I figured she would just be able to bring whatever she found to the building and I could bring it home. No. Apparently there was a lot of fabric. A LOT!! So, since we were in the area coming from the fair we stopped by the house and loaded up my truck.

This isn't even all of it. Only what would fit. And they haven't finished cleaning out her mom's house so there might be more. Let the sorting begin!

*Since it was getting close to the end of the year I figured why not make one more doctor's appointment and see if I even get close to meeting my deductible this year. I know no one really likes going to the doctor, but I kind of miss him. He's so wonderful, even if he didn't deliver my babies.

*Started going through the free fabric to see what I could use/keep and what I could get rid of. So far I think I will be keeping about 60% of what I brought home. There were some interesting finds. A photo of some thread and a bag of buttons. Love buttons. I have no idea what type of thread is on the cones. What was it supposed to be used for? What will I do with it? It's a lot of thread.

*Our Friday t-ball game was interesting. Three teams showed up to play ball. Weird. So what happens when the navy blue-blue (the boy's team), the black-blue team, and the green-white all show up? Answer: We all play ball, and try not to get confused. The coaches did a good job of figuring the whole thing out, but it was kind of a strange thing to happen.

*Halloween decorating. Fall festival. Pumpkin picking. (In that order) Busy, busy weekend.

If you have any tips on getting that musty smell out of fabric please share. I have washed some of it and hung it outside to dry. It helps, but it is faintly still there. I have washed others using color-safe bleach and put it in the dryer because the sun was setting. Still kind of there. Maybe soak in a bathtub filled with a water and vinegar solution? I saw this tip online. Might be worth a shot. **Update: I did the whole soak in vinegar thing. Then washed the fabrics again, hung them out on the line to dry, sprayed them with febreze, and later took them off the line to fold and put away. They smell like febreze now. I should probably get some more of that stuff, preferably in a smell I like. I didn't pick out this particular bottle, but it's what we had on hand.

Hope your weekend was fantastic!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall to Halloween

I've been working on some projects that are perfect for Fall. If you are on Pinterest then you have probably seen versions of these outfits from other crafty/sewy people.

I have a friend who has two tiny, smiley girls. She usually has a lady that makes matchy outfits her girls and she does great work. I'm envious. It's cute stuff.

This time she asked me to make matching fall outfits for her girls when they went on a trip to the mountains. It was my short work week so I had the time and said yes. I picked up the fabric and got to work.

I made two peasant dresses with matching ruffle pants using patterns from here and here.

Whoops, I got distracted by peasant dresses on Pinterest. Where was I?

Oh, yes. I did an online image search for a pumpkin and found a shape that I liked. I scaled it so it would be the right proportions for each girl. I used some scrap orange chevron fabric and heat n bond to attach it. The green fabric was in my stash and works perfectly for the stem.

Then, I did a very close zig-zag stitch around the pumpkin to secure it to the top.

My friend was eager to see photos so I put the biggest size outfit on my girl before I stitched the pumpkin down.

Cute! It "fits" her, but definitely fits the little girl it was made for much better. The ruffle could be more ruffle-y, though. My ability to match up chevron is not the greatest, so is my ability to get a straight line so the outcome doesn't look like it slopes to one side. grrr. But that is why I sew, so I can get better. I did apologize to my friend for my sewing errors ahead of time. She loved the outfits and I'm glad she's not too picky. :)

While I was out shopping for more brown chevron fabric (I didn't have enough), I found some other fabrics at stores and in the remnants bins. (Shocking! I know).

I found some fabric at Wal-Mart that I thought would be perfect for Halloween for my girl. Again, inspiration from Pinterest, and from my online pumpkin-image search, I put together an outfit for my girl to add to her Halloween wear.

I took a shirt she had in her closet (so glad she had a black one) and added my own applique to it to match those stinkin' cute orange, black and white dot fabric I found at Wal-Mart!

I made the E applique by searching for a font on a computer that had the look I was going for. I added to it a little...the short line in the middle of the E needed something more, but I mostly kept it the same. I have no idea what font I actually chose though, sorry. I'll try to find it again. It's Ravie. The font is Ravie. (FYI: Apparently the font Raavi is not the same as Ravie). So if you have that font you will get the uppercase E that looks similar to the one I used, without my little addition.

The witches hat came from an online image search...the one for the pumpkins I had done earlier. I thought the shape of this hat was perfect.

I didn't want to do a plain white hat or black hat. I wanted something with a little more character to it and not look out of place. I went searching in my fabric scraps and found some that might work, but just weren't right. I found some black chevron in my stash, that I had no idea what I was going to do with, and now I had a solution.

The girl requested ruffles on her pants, so having the black chevron for the ruffles, and the hat, really tied everything together.

Getting the zig-zag stitches around the hat and E this time was not very easy. I kept having thread was not fun. I persevered and it got finished. The unevenness of the stitches only adds character to the finished product...I was the plan the whole that it could fit in with the season...yeah, that's it. A happy accident, I guess, as Bob Ross would say.

Yes, that is an Easter water globe she is holding. We like to keep all holidays available for everyday use. She's cute.

The pants are a little long for her, but just roll down the waist and it fits perfectly for this year. Unroll it for next year and the fun continues.

Umm...should I be concerned about something? My little model.

Ruffle-y pants. Super cute!

Some silly photos. And a little sneak peek at another project I am working on.

*wink* Heehee. Cracks me up.

I found some other ideas I want to try for Halloween wear as well. I want to make something for the boy. I added them to my Pinterest board. 

Here's what I came up with.

I created the Frankenstein monster head using Microsoft Word. Simple basic shapes to make the head and facial features. I sketched out how I wanted the hair line to look on the paper printout.

He doesn't look scary at all. He's rather cute. Just like the boy who is wearing him. He is thrilled with his new Halloween shirt. Makes me happy.

Pretending to me a monster. Sometimes I am not so sure he is pretending. We are working on it. Baby steps.

Here is another shirt I made for him.

I loved the version I saw on Pinterest. I found a font that would work for the season. Kind of reminds me of college greek attire. He hasn't seen this one yet because I finished after he went to bed. I used to same fabric that I used to make my daughter's Halloween outfit. They can "match" without it being too much. And she can wear the shirt when she grows into it. Bonus!

Both shirts were made using heat n' bond to adhere the fabric to the shirt. I then stitched down the appliques, in matching/coordinating thread, so they wouldn't peel off due to wash and wear. I used a straight stitch, nothing fancy.

Looking forward to the start of Halloween wear!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Little Girl's Room Makeover

We have a great three bedroom house. One bedroom in particular was the room that my children spent their babyhood in. Once the girl was on her way we moved the boy to the other bedroom and she gets to stay in the same room.

Now that they are growing up it was time to change things up a bit. The only thing that had really changed in the girl's room was the crib to the bed.

Read the post about how I made her toddler bed here.

I took out the piece of furniture that I used as the changing table to put in my sewing room for an ironing station (on the right).

I'm slowly teaching my kids to clean up after themselves. They do pitch in and help, but they are young and slow so when I help them it's more like me cleaning for them. I'm impatient like that. I do make sure they get a head start before I jump in.

Here's are some befores.

This is pre-removal of the lingerie dresser. All it was doing was holding up the lamp and some photos, and some odds and ends. Nothing was actually in the drawers any more. It needed to go. So we moved it to the outdoor building that used to house my sewing stuff.

Here's what it looked like after the removal of the dresser and before I got around to organizing everything in it.


It's a lot all the way around. The cradle was holding all of her stuffed toys and dolls. We didn't really have a place to store the cradle or the dresser until my studio was finished. It got moved to the furniture storage building.

The area of her bed before and after dresser removal. She's learning to be a hoarder, I think.

A look around the room. You can see some of the wall artwork that has been up since they were babies. I like it, but we need new art for a growing girl.

Clutter, clutter. Stuff, stuff. Everywhere.

It's ready for a makeover.

To start with I needed something to hold all of her stuffies. I bought this Rollie Pollie pattern from the MADE blog just for this purpose. It is supposed to be used to make a bean bag chair.

I used some soft flannel fabric I had bought a while ago and wasn't sure what I would do with it (as usual). I didn't have enough of one fabric so I used two. Both are pink, but one has little stars on it and the other is just tiny stripes. They go well together.

I'm using it as storage for her soft toys, and as a chair in her room.

It's a little lumpy but she seems like to it. I made the large size and it has plenty of space to hold her toys, and them some.

I moved stuff out of her room so I could put back what was needed. I put her stuff in the living room.

Then, it was time to get to work. I cleaned and sorted and organized and got a great end result.


I did eventually take down the blanket from her window since it is getting darker earlier at night now.

You can see more of the floor, too. A place for everything and everything in its place. It looks pretty awesome.

I took down the old wall art that I bought at the Dollar Store. It was fun for a baby's room, but I no longer have babies. It will be replaced with artwork that a friend is painting for me. Ideas came from Pinterest for each canvas painting but with her own little twist to it. I bought the canvas, she is doing the painting. The others aren't done yet so more on that later.

It's a perfect reading corner and the toys are very comfy to sit on. Next to the chair is a little hamper for her dress up stuff.

Her toys were put back in the storage bins and you can see the floor so she has room to play in her room now.

I moved her bookcase over closer to the bed and organized her books. The bookcase also holds her puzzles.

I straightened up her butterfly wall art and put a few of her toys back on her bed.

She looks so cute taking a nap in her nice clean room. When I get the rest of the paintings I'll do a post about that as well, and when I hang the rest of her artwork I have for her.

For right now we are enjoying the clean room.