Saturday 29 October 2011

It's a coat!

It's ready! It's finally ready! Got the idea two years ago, bought fabric one year ago, cut coat fabric in January, and now it's ready!!!  (Warning for long, picture heavy post...)

The pattern, found on Tradera (Swedish ebay). Won after a fierce bidding, where I questioned if I really needed a pattern. So very, very happy I followed through on the bidding! Without this pattern I wouldn't have known what pieces a coat requires, and that was just the start of the process.

The fabrics, from left: green wool, woven fusible, 100% lambswool interlining, brown lining. Of course I later discovered I needed more stuff, like horse-hair canvas, shoulder pads, buttons, waaay more coat thread than I have here.

And all that material somehow turned into this. =)

Of course it was not as simple as that, there was no magic wand, but lots of sewing needles, pressing, and all kinds of new to me construction techniques. To my aid I had the classic Tailoring book, which was great. One thing it did not adress was how to pad-stitch a cut-on shawl collar, or how the assembly order changes for shawl collars in comparison to ordinary collars. I plan to post the solution I worked out =)

The fabrics were a pure joy to work with. In the end, nothing behaves as friendly as woven wool that has been treated. This had a Melton finish, making it impossible to pull out any strands, meaning no seam-finishing needed. Very helpful, since basically all the seam allowances were trimmed at one time or another, some down to 0.25 cm. Tightly woven and felted wool is a great idea then! Also, making invisible stitching is a breeze with a thick, tight wool.

Happy blogger! Also a demonstration of why it looks a bit uneven around the bust in the previous photo; it needs the ease so that my arms can move. But mostley: Happy blogger! =)

Of course, thick wool is a nightmare to press, but hey! Now I had to learn how to do it! I'll readily admit; not all seams are perfectly pressed, even though I did a lot of press-testing on scraps. I don't really care though, I love the coat!

Naturally the pattern didn't work straight out of the package, there were some huge fitting alterations: shortening the back, shortening the front (different amounts), Full Bust Adjustment, re-directing the bustdarts, adding width on waist and hips, and lots of small fiddly things. Still, the back worked as it was (with a lenght reduction), which was a first for me!
The only style alteration I did was to alter the collar slightly, it was way too high on the neck in the original pattern. I did keep the original skirt length, though. In old catalog photos the coat always covers the skirt/dress, and keeping that detail gives the coat a nice vintage flair, I feel.

So happy with the silhouette! Just like I envisioned!

There is huge amounts of handstitches inside this coat. To begin with all seams were handbasted, machine sewn,basting removed, seam pressed open, then both seam allowances cross stitched to the coat to ensure the seam would lie flat. The collar is pad stitched by hand, lining attached with slip stitches and of course all the hems are hand worked. Plus a lot more minor details... That was fun parts though, I love hand sewing!

A hint of the lining, the light from the street light does something weird to the colour though. Also the inside of my bound buttonholes. First time I've done any of those, so it was... interesting =) Of course some details could have been better, but I'm generally pleased with them.

Phew! A long post for conveying a long journey. I've enjoyed lot's of it, I've sworn quite a few times, I've learned tons, and now I'm very happy it has come to an end so I can go on to next step: using the coat! Come on winter, bring me that snow! =)

And finally: Thank you so much Elin, for being my photographer for a day!

Love, Erika

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Outrunners for winter

The air is beginning to taste of winter. Don't get me wrong, it's still (Thank heavens!) very much fall, leaves are yellow and the grass is still green. However, some trees stands bare and naked against the cold and today there has been three sure signs that winter is on the way:

1. Frost! =) Everything has been covered with frost in the mornings, so pretty.

2. I've put away all my cottonskirts and now the favorite wool skirt is back on, all fresh from the dry cleaners.

There's still a small, small dot on it, but I sincerely doubt anyone sees it.

3. I've bought new winter boots, as the old ones were falling apart...

All warm and fuzzy!

While I'm happy with all these things, I'm hoping winter doesn't hurry too much. Fall is so beautiful the way it is now!
Just ouside work, the red brick building is the office.

And with this bite in the air we've been having, I'm ready to put on my new winter coat.

 In the afternoon. Having a bit of a cold spell...

100% humidity and around zero celsius. The cold creeps in to the marrow!

Oh, the coat? Yes, there will indeed soon be pictures! I just need to find someone to take them... Using the timer on my compact camera, in a dark living room, will just not do the coat full justice... =)

Talk to you soon!
/Love, Erika

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Coat in progress, and changes at work

Still working on it! The coat, that is. For those who have (mercifully) missed this multi-volume epos, I've been working on a coat for a while. Let's see... I got the idea in September 2009, bought the pattern that fall, bought books, found the fabric August 2010, wrestled with the toile the rest of 2010. I cut the coat fabric in January, but spring beat me to the finish line, so I decided to let it rest during summer. Now it's back on, and I'm so almost ready that I can taste it! I would have been ready if the flu hadn't got me last week... Five days with fever! I didn't sew a stitch for a week, I missed a great dance night, and - worst of all - I missed Milo's baptism! It would have been just too selfish to risk everyone's health by coming, plus I was pretty wrung out...

 Currently slip-stitching the lining to the facing

I usually don't write a lot about work, but I have a major change soming up soon. I don't know what it will mean for the blog (hopefully I won't blog less, as I'm hardly blogging as it is!), but I just wanted to let you know... =) Maybe I've told you before, but I work for an outsourcing company, as a receptionist (I answer the phone as well, and do minor administrative work). That means I don't have a fixed work-place, I move around between 3-4 different places depending on where I'm needed. Some weeks I work full-time, other weeks it's a lot less, always with the same monthly wages though (yes, I get paid even when I'm not working, for beeing on-call). This has huge benefits; I've met so many wonderful people, learned different systems and programs, had an insight in different kind of companies, plus the occasional sleep in or leaving work early - or not working at all for a full day (doesn't happen every month). However, I have for a while been wishing for an office to call my own. To work in one place, with the same people every week, to have routines and be able to plan my week ahed. To step into a position and be able to grow within that, to make it my job, not someone else's I'm just filling in for.
So of course I was thrilled when my boss asked me if I was interested in working full time in one of the receptions that have been in my "circle"! It's a great office, so many nice people and a wonderful work-atmosphere, and the job is full-time. So looking forward to this! =) I start on Friday, and have part-time bookings tomorrow and an on Thursday, so today is my last "whoops, nobody called, guess I'm home sewing today!". What I made of it:

The goal is to finish the coat before Friday, but that depends a bit on how much I'm working the next two days (Ha! Story of my everyday life, but soon no more!). Alright, back to sewing!
Sorry, long chatty post... =)

Love, Erika

Thursday 6 October 2011

A love story

The search is over! They've been on the top of my shoe-wishlist for years: They had to be from the 40s, have a distinct but not too high heel (6-7 cm), lace up, be suitable for colder weather. Unless I wanted to spend a fortune on taxes and custom for shoes I didn't even know would fit, by buying from etsy or ebay, they seemed be impossible to find. But now they're standing next to me looking lovely =)

The short version of how I got them: Umeå may be a small town but we have an amazing shoemaker, Mr Löfström. He adores vintage shoes, came by these by chance and sold them to me. Read on for a longer version of the story, or just enjoy the pictures =)

I heard through the grapevine (yes, Facebook) that shoemaker Löfström was selling a lot of vintage shoes from an old lady. Off I went in search of pretty shoes, but discovered upon my arrival that they were all too new for me, mostly 70s and 80s. He showed me some of them, and I agreed they were in great condition and very cute, but explained they just were not my style.

Pointing at the shoes I was wearing I explained that I needed my everyday shoes to be orthopaedic, and for dressing up I preferred that style, pointing instead to his beautiful collection of unused, mint-condition 30s and 40s shoes (Which I already knew was not for sale, regardless of the price offered, they are for show only. A true shoe-lover!). He showed me a pair left by another client for a new sole and heel, explaining how vintage shoes needed to be treated to that unless the sole would be ruined when worn outside (old leather fall apart eventualy. Trust me, I've done that to a pair of 60s shoes...)

He then hesitated a bit, judged my reaction, weighed how I was dressed, and said slowly... "I do have a remarkable pair of 40s shoes in the storage. A lady came in to have the soles done for outside-wear, I offered to buy them to have for my show-collection, but she'd rather wear them. So I gave them a new sole and heel, she picked them up. A few days later she came back: the shoes were a tad too small. Did I still want to buy them? They were too beautiful for me to pass over, so I bought them. But they're no longer original, and can't go in my collection... Do you want me to take them here for you to try on?". Did I?!!!

Yesterday, I tried them on and they were perfect. Perfect! Not tight, not loose, beautiful and oh so comfortable to walk in! So I of course asked how much he wanted, and he hesitated, starting to almost talk himself into not selling them (I swear it wasn't a salestrick - you could tell the notion of letting them go was almost painful to him) so before he succeded in doing that I told him of my love for vintage and vintage craftmanship. When I told him of the coat I'm tailoring from a 1951 pattern, he changed his mind and gave me a price. He said that he hoped to one day see them worn, so I promised to swing by in full vintage gear =)

And now they're all mine! Two amazing features on them, besides the fabulous collar and the leafs on the ties, is the shape of the heel. Look at any true 30s and 40s shoes, and you'll notice they flat out at the heel, the angle different depending on the height of the heel. Modern shoes just aren't shaped that way, which is a pity. Wonder why they stopped... Another nice touch is the flannel lining, making them nice and warm, perfect for our not too hot northern weather.

Looking at them, I still can't believe they're real, or that they're really mine =)