Monday, December 5, 2016

Red Plaid Wool Jacket with Scarf

Hey! It's Shams from Communing with Fabric with another project made from a fabulous Britex fabric!

For this project, my assignment was to choose one of Britex's beautiful wools. I visited the store just a couple days before I left for Europe to make my choice. After much deliberation, I selected Mock Patchwork Plaid Wool.

This fabric is gorgeous! The photos don't really do it justice. It is a large scale, varied plaid. The wool is very soft—similar to cashmere—and it has a beautiful drape. It reminds me of a substantial, cozy flannel.

I brought the fabric home and went off to Europe. I needed time to mull over how I might use it. While in Paris, I spent time seeking out plaid coats—maybe you noticed that I included several plaid coats in my photo summaries.

In the end, I decided to make a long, unlined jacket trimmed with faux leather featuring welt pockets, three-quarter-length sleeves, and closed with a double-ended separating zipper.

I started with Butterick 6328, view C.

Butterick 6328

Pattern Alterations and Modifications

I made a number of changes to the pattern, some for fit and some for style. Fit changes:

  • Added a 1.5" FBA - introducing a high side dart (more on that later). (Typical)
  • Narrowed the shoulder by 3/4". (Typical)
  • Added a 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment. (Typical)
  • Added a 3/4" broad back adjustment - introducing a back shoulder dart. (Somewhat typical)
  • Shortened the sleeves by 1". (Typical)
Style changes:
  • Omitted the collar.
  • Replaced the side seam pockets with angled welt pockets.
  • Lengthened the body of the coat by several inches.
  • Added a double-ended separating zipper closure.
  • Omitted all facings, replacing them with faux leather trim that encases the raw edges.
  • Clean finished the inside using several different techniques.
  • Cut the sleeves on the bias.
  • Increased the 1-1/4" hem to 2".
  • Used the leftover fabric to sew a coordinating scarf. I've made this Koos-inspired Moebius infinity scarf many times before. The dimensions of this one was 48" by 19".
Worn as an open jacket

Working With a Large Plaid

When I returned from Europe and started playing with the fabric, I noticed that the plaid contained a 4-1/2" black-and-white checkerboard that "popped" when I studied it in the mirror. This put me in mind of how Burberry uses a large scale plaid in their shirts. In fact, I made a Burberry inspired plaid shirt several years ago.

While I think of this as an unlined jacket, I can also wear it as a dress!

I decided to use this plaid in a similar way, but this time in a longer, unlined jacket version. I fussy cut the pattern pieces very intentionally, replicating the layout of the Burberry shirt, and using the large plaid asymmetrically with the checkerboard as the focal point.

Partly zipped, with the matching Moebius scarf
Red wool hat purchased in Paris!

I've been matching plaids for years but, if you are new to this, there are many tutorials available to walk you through the process. Here are some considerations unique to my project:

  1. My pattern has only a few seams, so there aren't many places that might require matching: side seam, shoulder seam, armhole seam, and center front.
  2. I added a bust dart to the side seam, horizontal to the bust point, so the darts are high up. I match the plaid from the hem to the bust dart. Because the bust dart is high, there are only a few inches above the dart that don't match and that's hidden except when my arms are raised.
  3. For wearing ease, I added a shoulder dart to the back shoulder. Because of the shoulder dart in back and the bust dart in front, it's impossible to match the side seams and the shoulder seams. I hid the shoulder seam under a faux leather strip, which minimizes the fact that the plaid does not match.
  4. I cut the sleeves on the bias, placing a checkerboard at the top-front of the right sleeve and the bottom-front of the left sleeve. This avoids having to match the plaid at the armholes, and also balances the checkerboard above the right bust, creating a pleasing diagonal line through the 3 checkerboards. Additionally, the faux leather strips around the armhole minimize the break in the plaid.
  5. A patch pocket would have required plaid matching, but I used a welt pocket with a contrasting faux leather welt. I prefer a welt pocket over a patch pocket, and the contrast eliminates the need for matching.

Finishing the seams and raw edges

A clean inside

Because I think of this garment as an unlined jacket, I finished all of the raw edges. I handled this using a variety of techniques:

  • I sewed the shoulder seams wrong sides together. Pressed the seams open, trimmed, and covered raw edges with 1-1/4" strips of faux leather. Both edges of the faux leather were turned under 1/4", and hand stitched to the jacket.
  • The side seams are sewn to the inside, pressed open, and each raw edge covered with bias tape.
  • I used the pattern to create front and back armhole facings 1-1/2" wide, cut from faux leather. I stitched the front and back facings together to form a circle, laid the wrong side of the facing to the right side of the jacket (after the shoulder and side seams were sewn), and machine stitched 1/4" from the raw edge. I then turned the remaining raw edge under 1/4" and hand stitched to the jacket. After inserting the sleeves, I covered the armhole seams on the inside of the jacket with bias binding.
  • I used the pattern to create front and back neck facings 1-1/2" wide, cut from faux leather. I stitched the facings together to form a single unit. I had sewn the separating zipper to the wrong side of the garment, so that the raw edge folded to the front. I sewed the finished facing with the wrong side to the back of the garment, trimmed to 1/8", and folded the leather to the front. Finally, I turned the raw edge under 1/4" and hand stitched in place.
  • After finishing the front raw edges, the 2" hem was covered with bias tape and hemmed normally. Note that the pattern calls for a 1-1/4" hem, which I increased to 2".
  • I used the sleeve pattern (at the 3/4-length marking) to create a 1-1/4" hem facing, cut from faux leather. I sewed the right side of a 1-1/4" strip of faux leather to the wrong side of the sleeve hem. Pressed the seam open, trimmed to 1/8", and turned the strip to the right side of the sleeve. I turned the raw edge of the faux leather under 1/4" and stitched by hand to create a visible binding.

I will be getting much wear from my new jacket. Thanks to Britex for providing this beautiful fabric!

And please join me on Patti's Visible Monday! and Style Crone's Hat Attack! ('Cause, better late than never!)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Meeting Kathryn Brenne & Other Stuff


Meeting Kathryn Brenne

Kathryn Brenne is one of those sewing luminaries that, until recently, I hadn't met. She designs patterns for Vogue, writes articles for Vogue Pattern Magazine, Threads Magazine, and EmmaOneSock, and runs a sewing school. (A real underachiever, this one.)

She was recently in the Bay Area giving a talk and some workshops for PenWAG. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend her talk because I was still in Paris, but she contacted me and we arranged to meet up on Saturday, just a few days after I returned.

We met for coffee and then spent the entire day together and, OMG, she is a total delight!

It was a rare rainy day, and we started at Cumaica, a coffee shop in the Richmond district

We spent the day shopping for fabric and clothing, eating, and visiting a museum. (More on the museum in the next section.) I also learned that she, too, leads trips to Europe! She has led trips to Paris in the past, but has been leading trips to London in the last few years.

While shopping, I found a new hat...

...and a fun pullover

In fact, Kathryn just announced a trip to London early in 2017, London Couture in the Country. I told her I'd love to take a trip like this minus the sewing component. If you are also interested in a trip to London with Kathryn, minus the sewing school, let her know!

Yes, a completely self serving plea. ;)

Museum of Craft and Design

Kathryn had heard about a Marianne Lettieri exhibit, Marianne Lettieri: Reflections, at the Museum of Craft and Design. I had never even heard of the Museum of Craft and Design, but I was game to check it out. This small museum is located in Dogpatch, an area in the south-eastern part of San Francisco.

In this exhibit, Lettieri focuses on repurposing collections of objects that "reflect domestic objects and homemaking." It is not a large exhibit, but it featured some intriguing work. I particularly loved her pincushion "window" and her crocheted doily "wall sconce".

Rose Window, 2012
Plywood, plaster, muslin, hand-etched mirrors, 100 used pincushions

Concupiscence, 2013
Birch wood, found crochet work

This piece was over 6 feet high

Art of Manliness, 2016
100 old tools, sisal fibers, red string unravelled from a rug

27,000 Breaths, 2014
Sewing machine, table, 27,000 inches of fabric, thread, canvas

What she calls fabric is actually red twill tape

The Sisters of Biscuits and Pies, 2014
24 used rolling pins, dishtowels, buttons, twill

Besides the Marianne Lettieri exhibit, there were some other wonderful pieces in the museum. For example, there were several carved books by Guy Laramée.

Histoire de l'art by Guy Laramée, 2012
Carved book

It's actually two carved books! The pages were not glued together

There was a gorgeous tapestry by Don and Era Farnsworth.

Alluvion by Don and Era Farnsworth, 2005
Belgian cotton tapestry

Thanks to Kathryn Brenne for introducing me to a new resource in my own city!

Member in Focus

I thought I had blogged about this but I searched the blog and couldn't find it.

I was profiled as the Member in Focus on Pattern Review for October.

It was an honor!

You can also check out all of the Member In Focus posts here.

Fashion Fund, Season 3

I've blogged before about one of my favorite TV shows, The Fashion Fund.

The Fashion Fund profiles the annual competition held by the CFDA (The Council of Fashion Designers of America) and Vogue Magazine to ferret out the best upcoming fashion designers in the U.S. The winners are given a large cash award and mentorship to help develop their business. This award was conceived by Anna Wintour (editor in chief for Vogue Magazine) and Diane von Furstenburg (president of the CFDA).

I love this series because it is not "reality TV", per se. It's more of a documentary series about the process. They choose 10 designers and put them through a several month series of challenges. It is not an elimination competition—all ten designers remain for the entire process. At the end, the winners are awarded a large cash prize and mentorship. Some amazing American designers, like Alexander Wang, Rodarte, and others have been helped by this award.

Seasons 1 and 2 were televised on the Ovation channel, but Fashion Fund, Season 3 was purchased by Amazon Prime. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can watch this show for free. Season 4 has also been purchased by Amazon and will be available in January 2017.


I was so excited when I realized that it was on Amazon Prime! I binge watched the entire season over the Thanksgiving break.

I should mention another good series on Amazon Prime that I've been watching, Videofashon Designers, Season 1. Each episode highlights a designer, giving a retrospective of past and recent work. I highly recommend it!


I'm sorry that this post had no sewing, but I spent the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend mostly sewing! I've been working on a Britex project using a gorgeous wool plaid. It's finished, but not yet blogged.

A gorgeous wool plaid from Britex

I hope those of you who celebrate had a lovely Thanksgiving! Since returning from Paris I've been recovering from bronchitis, so besides sewing, I've been resting and trying to kick this thing. I've been tired and horribly congested, but am slowly getting better. In fact, I didn't eat a thing on Thanksgiving—I just wasn't hungry. My kids celebrated with the other side of the family and I love the pics that their cousin shared!

DD1 and DD2

DD2 was visiting from university in Canada for Thanksgiving and we had dinner on a rainy evening in San Francisco

I hope you have a great week! Please join me on Patti's Visible Monday.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Paris Finale

My last post on the Paris trip.


Cluny Museum and the Unicorn Tapestries

If you love medieval art, you'll want to check out the Cluny Museum.

Door to the Cluny Museum

It is, perhaps, most famous for its six unicorn tapestries. One tapestry represents each of the 5 senses and the last tapestry is something of an enigma. It represents "My desire", but it's not clear exactly what that means.

Whatever it means, these are very lovely tapestries!




Doggie detail

Mon Desire
I love that I caught Diane E taking a pic!

If you have a chance to see these in person, you should.

The museum has other interesting things to see, including a Roman bath, stained glass, and sculptures.

In the legend of St Denis, he's said to have walked some distance carrying his severed head.

A park next to the museum

Printemps Haussmann

After the Tilton tour was over, a member of our group mentioned that Printemps Haussmann, a large department store in Paris, had unveiled their Christmas windows.

I decided to check them out!

They had two types of window displays: some contained animated vignettes, including two windows that featured Jimmy Choo shoes. I made a video of the shoe "planes" flying around the tree, but I can't seem to find it. They also had some interactive windows that take a photo of your face and superimpose it on a poster.

My face on the little boy

And on the little girl with pigtails

A few shots from the animated windows.

Printemps Haussmann consists of two stores. There is a cafeteria on the 9th floor of the main building and the terrace features amazing views.

At the top of the smaller store, on the 6th floor, is the restaurant they refer to as the "cupola". Margy and I planned to meet there.

I walked in and... OMG.

The stained glass ceiling reflected in the mirrored table


A few more random shots in Printemps Haussmann.

The Printemps bathroom is worth checking out. Decorated with rolls of TP, it costs 1.50 euro to use the facilities, but it's worth the experience

Stravinsky Fountain

Once I learned about the Stravinsky Fountain, I had to see it! This fountain contains a number of colorful creatures, each one representing one of Stravinsky's musical pieces.

In solidarity with my endowed mermaid sister

Google Paris

I couldn't resist. I had to check out the Google Paris office! I stopped by for lunch and a quick visit.

A Lego Eiffel Tower

I tried this dessert after lunch and it was strange! I didn't finish it.

Near the Google office

Window Licking (and Street Wear), part 5

Just look at her coat!

In a yarn store

An interesting fleece wrap!

Grommets are king!

Beautiful plaid duffle

I like the bold pockets

I just loved the back of this woman's coat in Printemps Haussmann. I didn't even see the front!

A faux fur poncho!

I loved this stylish couple in the Marais

More Pics, part 5

I was walking by myself when I saw this guy in a park

The covered passages in Paris are very cool, though this one is completely vacant

I'd been told the try the colorful macarons in France. I tried this version, filled with Italian ice cream. Then local friends informed me that the San Francisco bay area has these same Amorino stores. Oh well!

Paris street cleaning machines are so darned cute!

A display in Bon Marché

Enjoying my new glass buttons featuring Paris scenes

I first saw Tzuri Gueta's jewelry in the Met Museum gift shop last July. I googled his name and saw that he has a shop in Paris, so I had to check it out! It's located on the Viaduct des Arts—a street near the Bastille full of art studios

He works with silk and silicon. His pieces are very lightweight.
He makes organic, fantastical sculptures as well as jewelry

So much fun!

A patron saint of motorcycles? ;)

A children's clothing store

Towards the end of our trip the holiday decorations were going up.

Les Halles underground mall adorned with a string of giant reindeer

Final Thoughts

I returned home this afternoon. After being away for almost a month, I need to get reacquainted with my sewing room! At some point I'd like to write a post on my travel wardrobe and lessons learned, but it may take awhile.

I had never been to Paris before and I can't imagine a better introduction than seeing it with the Tiltons. It was a wonderful tour with the right amount of museums, shopping, and free time. They shared their favorite sources, restaurants, and shops. We became pros at using the Metro—both the subway and surface buses. Paris is a very walkable city, with beauty around most every corner, and we logged 5-6 miles per day. I fell in love with several neighborhoods and I definitely plan to return, sooner rather than later!

Thanks so much, Marcy and Katherine, for a wonderful, bucket-list, unforgettable trip!

Complimentary water on Air France. Really? Christian Lacroix?

Tomorrow, I return to work. My shoes aren't even unpacked yet and I'm trying really hard not to go to sleep now, at 6:30pm. Playtime is over!